Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday urged the Election Commission of Pakistan to announce the “long-delayed” judgment on the PTI “foreign funding” case.
“For long has Imran Niazi been given a free pass despite his repeated and shameless attacks on state institutions. Impunity given to him has hurt the country,” wrote the premier on his Twitter.
His message comes after a drubbing by the PTI on Sunday in the by-elections on 20 constituencies of Punjab.
PTI secured 15 seats, whereas PML-N could only manage four, unofficial results showed.
Later, in an address to supporters on Monday, PTI Chairman Imran Khan criticised the ECP for being biased and demanded Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja’s resignation over his alleged favouring of the PML-N in by-elections.
Imran also claimed that his party won the by-polls despite the use of state machinery as he insisted that early elections were still the only solution to the country’s economic problems.
Following Imran’s address, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz demanded that the ECP issue its verdict in the foreign funding case soon. “There is irrefutable evidence against you (Imran) which has to be revealed inevitably.”
The ECP reserved the verdict in case nearly a month ago, on June 21, following a hearing by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sultan Raja.
The verdict was reserved after the completion of a briefing by the financial expert brought by PTI founding member Akbar S Babar.
Babar has alleged major irregularities in the party’s finances, including in funding from outside Pakistan.
The ECP concluded the case after seven years of trial, which started in 2014, when Babar filed it. The date the verdict will be announced is yet to be revealed.
During the hearing, the financial expert maintained that audit principles and standards have been ignored in PTI’s funds. He claimed that the donors were not third parties but companies created by the party leadership.
“It is the first time in history that a political party is giving details for its funding sources to the ECP. Every political party should be answerable before the Commission,” Babar said.
FARRUKH HABIB DEFENDS: PTI leader Farrukh Habib defended PTI’s funding saying that there are 40,000 donors and that records for all of them have been provided.
“It is now up to the ECP to decide,” Habib said at the time, calling for the decision to be based on merit.
He said that the ECP should have made the decision for all the parties together, as it is the ECP’s responsibility to maintain a balance.
THE REPORT: A report of an ECP scrutiny committee probing the party’s funds had revealed on January 4 that the PTI hid funds worth millions of rupees from the commission.
The report stated that the PTI provided “false information” regarding the party’s funding. It said that the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) statement revealed that the party had received Rs1.64 billion in funding.
According to the report, the party did not disclose funding worth more than Rs310 million to the ECP.
The scrutiny committee was formed in 2019 to audit foreign funding received by the PTI.