PTI signals readiness to cooperate with FIA

Fawad Chaudhry demands similar investigation in PML-N, PPP funding


Our Correspondent August 07, 2022
Former federal information minister Fawad Chaudhry. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD:

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Sunday questioned the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) notices to the party leaders in the wake of Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) decision in the prohibited funding case but at the same time signalled its readiness to cooperate with the investigator.

Senior PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry told a news conference that four PTI leaders had been summoned by the FIA. He, however, added that the party would cooperate with the investigation and expected that those summoned by investigation team would appear before it.

The probe kicked off after the ECP verdict in the prohibited funding case. The FIA has summoned five former ruling party leaders, including former National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser, provincial minister Mahmoodur Rasheed, former Sindh governor Imran Ismail, to appear before it later this month.

The FIA has formed a five-member special team, headed by Dr Athar Waheed and including Additional Director Khalid Anees, Deputy Director Khawaja Hamad, Deputy Director Chaudhry Ejaz and Assistant Director Ejaz Ahmed Shaikh.

A number of PTI leaders, including Imran Ismail, Mahmoodur Rasheed, Asad Qaiser and Seema Zia, were summoned by the FIA after the ECP ruled that the former ruling party had received millions of dollars from 351 foreign companies and 34 nationals.

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“In what capacity are the party members getting summoned by the FIA,” Chaudhry asked. He explained that those summoned were not public-office-holders in 2011-12 – which according to him was the period of the prohibited funding. “We are expected to appear at the FIA,” he added.

The PTI leader also spoke about the ECP verdict, claiming that the party had provided details of all accounts. He claimed that there were a total of 13 accounts in which Rs20 million was transferred. “But this amount is being exaggerated as billions of rupees,” he added.

The details of these accounts have been given to the Election Commission,” he said. “I have already said that an international account was opened and all the funding came into that. These 13 accounts are also declared and we have provided the details of each one,” he added.

Imran’s disqualification

Chaudhry said that the government had gone crazy over the issue of PTI’s funding. Touching on the subject of former prime minister Imran Khan’s disqualification, he said: “Who will dare to disqualify Imran? You are not announcing elections because you fear he will win by a two-thirds majority.”

The former information minister said that the Supreme Court had ordered the ECP to take a joint decision on the accounts of all the political parties. However, he expressed his disappointment that the electoral watchdog had become a “subsidiary of the PDM [Pakistan Democratic Movement]”.

He raised questions about the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) receiving funds worth Rs10 million but there was “no record of it”. He added that the PTI would take the ruling party to court to finalise its audit within 15 days. “They also used their accounts for money laundering,” he alleged.

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Furthermore, Chaudhry went on to lambast the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). Former president Asif Ali Zardari was the head of one wing of the party, while his son and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was heading a separate wing.

“The explanation they gave was that one party funded the other. But under the ECP rules, no political party can fund another party. The PPP has shown its expenses but has not revealed where the money was spent,” he said. “Why the PPP and the PML-N are being protected by the ECP,” he asked.

Now that “the PTI is cooperating with the FIA”, Chaudhry said, the party was “expecting the same from them”, adding that Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and PML-N’s Ataullah Tarar should also be summoned.

Chaudhry announced that the party would also be investigating into the cases that were filed against its members and workers following the ‘Azadi March’ on May 25. “We hope that [Interior Minister] Rana Sanaullah and others will not hide [from the investigation],” he said.

“Rana [Sanaullah] Sahib is only the SHO [station house officer] of Kohsar police station [in Islamabad]. Rana Sahib did not go to [his hometown of] Faisalabad because he is cautious. You are so brave that you have not gone to Faisalabad since the government changed, however caution is a good thing.”

The senior PTI leader was also critical of the National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Asharf’s decision of accepting resignations of only 11 PTI lawmakers. “The speaker has no right to accept them in the manner that he did,” he said.

He said that former deputy speaker Qasim Suri had already accepted them all. “The government is holding by-elections on nine seats because it is fed up with its allies. They want to gather seats gradually to secure a majority. This is their political move,” Chaudhry claimed.

(WITH INPUT FROM NEWS DESK)

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