Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan has refuted as baseless allegations of misuse and embezzlement of party funds.
Appearing before the Election Commission as counsel for the PTI chief on Monday, Advocate Shoaib Shaheen initially said the primary question was whether the ECP had the jurisdiction to adjudge the case.
But when the commission insisted that he respond to the charge, he said the PTI’s founding member and former vice president Akbar S. Babar had acted mala fide when he levelled the allegation. He said Mr Babar had been charge-sheeted and expelled from the party in 2011 and this was the only reason for the petition filed with the commission. Mr Babar had filed the petition in November, calling for an investigation into “financial malpractices in the party” and seeking accountability of those responsible. He had accused PTI leaders of disregarding and violating the Political Parties Order 2002. He attached ‘documentary evidence’ with the petition, including a copy of an audit of the party’s funds and receipts of donations received from abroad. Advocate Shaheen sought copies of an amended petition filed and asked for time to go through it and submit a reply. The ECP asked the counsel for Mr Babar, Ahmad Hasan Rana, to provide a copy of the petition to Mr Shaheen and adjourned the hearing till March 3. It asked Mr Khan’s counsel to come well prepared on the next date of hearing and submit a statement.
Chief Election Commissioner retired Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza Khan, ECP Member from Punjab retired Justice Riaz Kiani and Balochistan Member retired Justice Fazalur Rahman heard the case. The members from Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were not present. Talking later to reporters, Mr Babar accused the PTI of using delaying tactics. He said on one hand the PTI criticised the PML-N for seeking stay orders from high courts to delay the proceedings of election tribunals, on the other it was employing the same tactics to delay the proceedings in this case. If the PTI had nothing to hide, it should offer the ECP to order investigations into its accounts, he said. He claimed that PTI finance secretary Sardar Azhar Tariq Khan had offered after the hearing to settle the matter through a Jirga. He said the offer was an attempt to settle the matter through ‘Muk Muka (compromise)’, which the PTI alleged was the PML-N’s method of politics. He said the PTI had been transformed into a party of hypocrites as known corrupt individuals were being patronised while those who demanded transparency and accountability in the party were being shunned.
He said the PTI chairman should resign for supervising what he termed rigged party elections, along with all the office-bearers ‘illegally’ elected and nominated after October last year. He alleged that illegal foreign funds to the tune of millions of dollars had been received in PTI accounts and evidence in this regard was part of the petition filed on Nov 14. He raised concerns about the motives of foreign funds received at a time when international conspiracies were being hatched to destabilise the country. He said party workers should not be treated as Mr Khan’s domestic servants whose membership could be cancelled on the whims of the leader through press statements. He challenged the party to present a single show-cause or expulsion notice required under the law to substantiate its claim of having expelled him. Besides some founding members, PTI MNA Mussarat Ahmedzeb from Swat also attended the proceedings in support of the petition.