PTI prohibited funding case and the next

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced the verdict in the prohibited funding case against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Tuesday. The ECP, in its unanimous verdict, ruled that the party received funds from business tycoon Arif Naqvi and from 34 foreign citizens including Indian, Israeli, British, and Americans. The ECP verdict further revealed that the PTI also received massive funds from foreign companies based in Europe and America.

It further said that the party had taken ownership of eight accounts and kept 16 hidden, which is a violation of Article 17 of the Constitution. The ECP confirmed that during a period of five years the PTI hid funds worth 320 million rupees. The electoral watchdog has issued a show-cause notice to the PTI to explain why the commission should not seize the funds it received illegally. The commission also said that the PTI Chief Imran Khan had submitted misdeclarations and inaccurate form-1 with the commission consecutive five times.

The mystery of the years-long prohibited funding case of the PTI has reached an end after the announcement of ECP’s decision. The case was initially filed with the ECP by the PTI founding member Akbar S Ahmed in November 2014. Although Akbar highlighted alleged misappropriations in PTI’s financial affairs with party leaders including Imran Khan and urged them to remove these snags to ensure transparency and full fill constitutional obligations, but he was rebutted and advised to keep silent. The ECP constituted a scrutiny committee to examine the PTI’s financing and submitted its report on January 4, after 95 hearings in nearly four years.

Ironically, the PTI’s course over the past eight years was highly regrettable as the party did not cooperate with the authorities during the hearing as well as in the investigation of the case. According to the reports, the PTI refused to divulge details of large transactions, got postponement the case multiple times through stay orders, and pressurized the ECP and Chief Election Commissioner in a bid to stop the announcement of the decision. After the announcement of the verdict, the PTI refused to accept the decision and vowed to challenge in the higher courts.

In fact, the PTI Prohibited Funding Case is not a minor misappropriation of an individual, wrongdoing, or an unintentional mistake but it is a series of events spread over the past one and a half decades when the party started collecting donations within the country and abroad, and the money started pouring into the PTI’s accounts in multiple banks, being operated by several party leaders in the center and provinces. It would be better if the PTI would have amended its policy in the beginning when several party leaders including Akbar S Ahmed and Justice (retired) Wajih-ud-din sensitized the party leadership about the fiscal and legal havoc being made by the party with the National laws. Interestingly, the party leadership failed to assess the gravity of the situation and severity of the offense even after a case had been filed against the party in 2014.

Apparently, the nation had been betrayed, the law violated, and an offense was committed and defended by a political party for years. Hence, the law should take its path, the ECP, the government, as well as the Supreme Court, must full fill their constitutional obligations for an early and logical conclusion of the case to serve justice to the nation.