After potentially-embarrassing news reports emerged of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) failing to inform the Election Commission of Pakistan about at least 18 of its bank accounts, the SBP has denied that such a report was issued. The central bank has also said that it could not be the source of such information because it does not maintain lists of individual account holders in commercial banks. At the same time, the SBP did admit that it issued a pre-election notification to officials at all banks to share details of any PTI accounts in their respective banks.
The SBP has not, however, made any critique relating to the allegation of the PTI operating undeclared accounts, which means there is still smoke in the air. The smoke, of course, follows a match put forward by disgruntled PTI founding member Akbar S Babar, who first alleged, and later filed a case, accusing the party of various forms of financial impropriety.
The PTI’s defence against the charges has always been problematic. After first rubbishing Babar’s claims, it has shifted positions to now suggest that at least some of those 18 accounts might belong to the party’s provincial chapters, and the central party leadership was unaware of them. The party even failed to send a representative to the most recent ECP scrutiny meeting. This, along with the PTI demand for the ECP scrutiny proceedings to be kept secret, seems suspicious, to say the least, when coming for a party that claims to champion transparency and was elected on an anti-corruption agenda.
The PPP has tried to draw equivalencies between the PTI’s alleged accounts and the fake accounts case embroiling much of its own party leadership. But even if the 18 accounts exist, this case is likely different as there is no suggestion that money was laundered — only concealed.
However, the fact that it comes close on the heels of loud calls by the PTI for the Sindh chief minister and others named by the fake accounts JIT to resign, glass houses inevitably come to mind. Or has the PTI already forgotten the fate of Jahangir Tareen?
Published in The Express Tribune, January 12th, 2019.