Sword of Damocles falls on Imran's PTI – The Express Tribune

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In its written order, ECP says party received millions of dollars in illegal funds from foreign countries
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday finally announced its ruling in the long-awaited, cliffhanger case of the PTI's prohibited funding and ruled that the party did indeed receive illegal funding, while issuing a notice to the party asking why the funds should not be confiscated.
A three-member ECP bench headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja announced the verdict in a case filed by PTI founding member Akbar S Babar which had been pending since November 14, 2014.
The unanimous verdict, which was reserved on June 21, was expected at 10am but was delayed by almost half-an-hour.
In its written order, the ECP said the political party received millions of dollars in illegal funds from foreign countries, including the United States, the United Arab Emirates, the UK, and Australia.
"The office is also directed to initiate any other action under the law, in light of this order of the Commission," said the 68-page judgement – a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune.
The electoral watchdog also declared that 13 'unknown' accounts have been found linked to the party and the submissions by PTI chief Imran Khan were 'inaccurate and wrong'.
Read: PTI directly benefited from foreign funding
It is pertinent to note that the eight-year delayed ruling has hit the PTI at a time when Imran Khan is voicing concerns over the top election supervisory body's conduct.
However, in the wake of the ruling, the party has downplayed the potential impact on its political fortunes, insisting its books were in record and in fact the ruling vindicated its own stance that the party was not "foreign-funded".
Nonetheless, the verdict has come as a shot in the arm of the beleaguered coalition government which, smarting from a shocking defeat in Punjab at the hands of the party they muscled out from power just months ago, is ready to exhaust all options in its fast-shrinking room to knock out Imran on a legal ground.
"Grossly inaccurate"
In its order, the ECP also said it was constrained to hold that Mr Khan failed to discharge his obligations as mandated under the relevant statutes, adding that the PTI chairman has for successive five years under review and examination has submitted Form-1 and signed a certificate which is not consistent with the accounting information before the commission which has been gathered and complied on the basis of information obtained from banks through the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).
“Mr Imran Khan for the five years under review has filed submissions which were grossly inaccurate and wrong. Even during the course of Scrutiny and Hearing by this Commission, PTI continued to conceal and withhold complete and full disclosure of [the] source of its funds."
Imran had personally issued certificates to the ECP in regards to Article 13(2) of the PPO to the effect that PTI “does not receive funds from prohibited sources”, meaning thereby that the PTI is not a foreign-aided political party.
The commission stated in its verdict said that the party "knowingly and willingly" recieved funding from Wootton Cricket Limited which was operated by the now jailed tycoon Arif Naqvi.
The PTI was a "willing recipient" of $2,121,500, the order said.
Other foreign-based companies which donated to the party include the UAE-based Bristol Engineering Services, Cayman Island registered E-Planet Trustees, Australia-based Dunpec Limited and the UK-based SS Marketing Manchester.
The election commission, in its verdict, also stated the party violated Article 17(3) (3) of the Constitution as the PTI failed to declare three bank accounts operated by the party's senior leadership and the concealment of 16 bank accounts by the party was a "serious lapse".
'Battle between truth and might'
Reacting to the verdict, the petitioner of the case, PTI founding member Akbar S Babar, spoke to the media after the verdict's announcement and thanked God and his late mother for "victory" in "this battle".
"We were fighting against a mountain. This was a battle of truth versus might and we are victorious."
Babar stated that there was no personal benefit for him in this case, rather the nation benefitted as Pakistani politics needed a pivotal change so that political parties were tested under the law.
He thanked the ECP, stating that we [the people] had to trust and strengthen state institutions.
"We were tested many times over these past eight years but this very same election commission has agreed with all my arguments."
Reiterating the decision of the electoral watchdog, Babar maintained that the ECP had agreed that the PTI received funding from foreign individuals and companies and that several certificates submitted by Imran were "fake".
"Imran Khan used to threaten PTI, would insult the chief of the election commission and attack people personally", he claimed, adding that he believed this was "fascism".
He claimed that the ECP's decision was a step towards uprooting PTI's "fascism".
 
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