Yesterday, the ECP ruled that the PTI received “unauthorised funding” from overseas Pakistan: an act which is against the law of the country under the Political Parties Order 2002. The general masses already had their hands on enough facts to know that the party had hidden its resources, and wrongly declared the source of its funding. Hence, the ECP verdict was not unexpected.
The unanimous judgement made by the three member bench ruled that, “PTI knowingly and willfully received donations” from sources “hit by prohibition and in violation of Pakistani laws” and issued a show-cause notice to the party asking why the funds should not be confiscated.
So, what’s next for PTI and its leader, Imran Khan? The party might make it through this road block, but things could get tough for Imran Khan. Few legal experts have pointed out that Article 62 (1) (f) of the Constitution may be invoked against the party chief, which would lead to the confiscation of the party funds.
Since Imran Khan gave an affidavit under his signature, declaring the party has not received any prohibited funding, his own party can not absolve him, nor can he mitigate the circumstances by saying he was not responsible for the accounts.
Other parties have also been lying at the door with getting financial help from foreign sources, but those arrangements have never been proven. This is the first time in Pakistan’s history that the ECP has indicted any party for proscribed funding. It took the ECP seven years to take a decision by concluding its finding. The case was filed by one of the founding fathers of PTI, Akbar S. Babar, in 2014. He ostensibly produced documentary evidence to support his allegations.
However, the PTI denied any foreign funding, and relied on delaying tactics to save face. They frequently changed their lawyers, initiated a campaign against the chief election commissioner and failed to show up to the hearings, in an effort to bury the investigations.
A scrutiny committee was created earlier this year to examine PTI’s finances. The report by the committee highlighted gross violation of funding laws. The report alleged the party received millions of dollars from foreigners, including Indians. To add fuel to the fire, the Financial Times issued a report and reinforced the charges of illegal and misdeclaration of funds.
The report might prompt new investigations against Naqvi for violating the law of Pakistan. Amid the crisis, the PTI leaders have put on a brave face, and dismissed any elemental consequences of the verdict. The rival parties have used this verdict to smear Imran Khan and attack his moral superiority. The political rivals can also use this verdict to sharpen their claims of “imported government” against Imran Khan.
Overall the verdict might not impact his fame in the country. But it does raise a question about the lengths the politicians would go to hide the truth from the nation, and present themselves as moral beings. Breaking the law and violating our Constitution is nothing new for the politicians. One even referred to it as a “mere piece of paper”, during his ten years rule in the country. However, the ECP and LEAs can use this opportunity to create an atmosphere of trust and set a precedent for other politicians on the outcomes of foreign funding.
by Amna Sheikh