PTI ‘vindicated’ in foreign funding case

Minister says Rs310m was a single transaction counted twice


Our Correspondent January 04, 2022
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Chaudhary Fawad Hussain, Briefing Media Persons, about the Decisions taken in Federal Cabinet Meeting in Islamabad. PHOTO: APP

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ISLAMABAD:

Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Tuesday dismissed the allegations made against the ruling PTI in the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) scrutiny committee’s report in the foreign funding case, and on the contrary claimed that his party had emerged “vindicated”.

He also urged the ECP to publish a report giving a comparison of the PTI’s funds with those in the accounts of the PML-N and PPP.

Addressing a news conference after a federal cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, Fawad maintained that the sum of Rs310 million – which the party had allegedly hidden from the ECP -- was a single transaction counted twice and the matter would be taken up with the electoral body later.

The minister alleged that the former premier Nawaz Sharif used the PML-N’s account for “money laundering”. “A sum of Rs80 million was transferred in that account that was allegedly withdrawn by him [Nawaz] using certain tactics.”

Fawad also claimed that the report of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) that the scrutiny committee had submitted to ECP was prepared during the PML-N’s tenure. “The same report was used as the basis for the PTI foreign funding case before the ECP by the scrutiny committee,” he added.

The minister, accompanied by Minister of State for Information Farrukh Habib, claimed that the PTI was the only party which had a legal and detailed funding system. “PTI activists from around the world fund the party with contributions starting from even one dollar.”

Fawad claimed that other parties had no such system as they were patronised by some ‘feudal lords’ or ‘businessmen’, who gave them funds, which were in fact used to “run the house affairs of their leadership”.

Denying news reports that the PTI had hid 53 accounts, Fawad said the party only had 26 of them, adding that even eight of them were inactive. “Only eight of these accounts are active with transactions taking place in them.”

Of the remaining 10 accounts, he added, the PTI had disassociated with four of them while the remaining six were used as subsidiary accounts. He maintained that the welfare wing of the party had its separate account as it was listed as a separate entity.

Also read: PTI to extend full cooperation to ECP in foreign funding case, says Asad Umar

To a query, he said only 26 accounts of the PTI were mentioned on page number 84 of the report and the figure of 56 did not emerge anywhere in it.

“No issue of foreign funding has come to light,” Chaudhry claimed. Referring to media reports that as sum of Rs310 million of the Rs1.61 billion donated to the PTI was kept hidden, he said two transactions of Rs160 million and Rs150 million were shown. “Actually the transaction of Rs160 million was counted twice as the money from one central account was transferred to another.”

He said that issue would be argued before the ECP later on as the PTI had given details of every single penny to the electoral body. Moving on to other matters, the minister said the federal cabinet had given the nod to presenting the Statement of Contingent Liabilities in the National Assembly.

“The approval has been given in view of the guarantee given by the government of Pakistan to international organisations for development projects.” Fawad said the Centre had imported Covid-19 vaccine to the tune of $2 billion, claiming that the Sindh government had not imported a jab worth a single rupee.

“In addition to the NFC [National Finance Commission] award, the Centre has provided Rs111 billion to the Sindh government in the form of vaccine and Ehsaas programme.” He regretted that the Sindh government was not participating in the healthcare programme through which the government was providing free treatment up to Rs1 million to each eligible family at all hospitals.

He said it was a misconception that the health cards programme would shut down government primary health centres and hospitals. “In fact, the opposite would happen and the scheme would further help in improving the performance of government hospitals.”

The minister further said the ECP had written a letter for the provision of electronic voting machines (EVMs). “The cabinet has directed the science and technology ministry to decide about the purchase of EVMs and provide them to the ECP for the local bodies’ elections in the capital.”

Replying to a question, Fawad said that it appeared that the editorial policy of major TV channels was being decided by the PML-N. “Why are media organisations silent on this?” he asked, while referring to the alleged leaked audio of PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz and party leader Pervaiz Rashid in which the two purportedly talk about “certain journalists being biased”.

Separately, Habib, while talking to a private news channel, said all accounts of the PTI were declared as it strongly believed in transparency. “The opposition will face disappointment in the [PTI] foreign funding case,” he added. The state minister urged the ECP to take legal steps against those political parties who had concealed facts from the scrutiny committee.

(With input from APP)

 

 

 

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