Islamabad            -      The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has decided to put up strong defence in the foreign funding case, which the Election Commission will hear on a daily basis from Tuesday.

It has also decided to ask the commission to club its case with those of the opposition parties’ foreign funding cases so as to decide them all at the same time.

These decisions were taken in a party core committee meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan told the media.

“PTI reserves the right to defence and is ready to go through the legal process on foreign funding case,” she said. She said the legal team of the party would present facts about their case to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and would also act to curb disinformation and fake news on this matter.

She urged the ECP to investigate the funding of all the political parties instead of singling out them, ignoring the fact that the commission has already opened investigations into the foreign funding to their major rivals - the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan Peoples Party.

In fact, the commission has decided to hear the lingering case of PTI on a daily basis on a request of the opposition parties which they made immediately after the ECP announced that it will probe the foreign funds of the PML-N and the PPP.

In another significant development the filer of the case against the PTI, Akbar S Babar, has submitted a fresh application to the ECP requesting it to decide the case itself after summoning the record from a scrutiny committee that had been formed by the commission to audit the party’s funds.

Mr Babar himself is a PTI founding member, who left the party after he developed differences with Imran Khan and others over the alleged illegalities in party affairs.

He submitted his fresh application three days after the ECP decided to hear the five-year-old PTI foreign funding case on a daily basis, on the demand of all the opposition parties which had submitted a memorandum to the commission last week.

Dr Firdous Awan said PTI had no objection to go through the legal process of the Election Commission which would no doubt ensure its credibility, dignity and rule of law and justice. She said it was a priority of Prime Minister Imran Khan to ensure independence of the Election Commission and strengthen it as an institution.

At the same time, she accused the Election Commission of “targeting only one party [PTI]” and demanded it to conduct audit of all political forces.

She said the core committee of PTI expressed its concerns over the way ECP was “hurryingly” taking up the case of only PTI, while similar cases relating to opposition parties were being put into cold storage.

“Our legal team would demand from the Election Commission to club all the petitions relating to foreign funding to hear and decide them [all at the same time],” she said.

Firdous said that PTI was the pioneer in generating funds from Pakistanis living abroad and it spearheaded the electoral and political reforms in political system, and argued that funds taken from Pakistani expatriates cannot be called foreign funding.

The Pakistani diaspora reposed trust in PTI, considered it a saviour of Pakistan and supported it financially while observing the laws related to political funding, she said. “If Pakistani companies and diaspora support the party [financially], it cannot be called foreign funding,” she went on to say.

Throwing a taunt at the opposition, she said that on one hand the opposition keeps wailing that last election was rigged and the ECP did not hold the polls in a free and fair manner but on the other hand they went to the commission asking for a daily hearing of the PTI case.

Firdous said people come and go but institutions were there to stay and nobody should act in a hurry, asking why the opposition was in a hurry to get a decision against a political party. While commenting this, she conveniently ignored the fact that the case against her party has already drawn too long.

She said the opposition was occupying television screens to propagate a baseless and false propaganda, exaggeration and conjecture about the case of funding of PTI before the Election Commission. The PTI core committee has therefore decided to effectively counter the “false” propaganda against the ruling party over foreign funding case, she added.

The Special Assistant to PM said their legal team has been asked to effectively present party’s point of view in the ECP as well as before the media to end disinformation over the issue.


PTI reorganisation

She said PTI was the only party which held intra-party elections, promoted democratic norms and values, freedom of speech and encouraged grassroots democracy so that the common man had more role in decision making.

The PM had instructed for immediate re-organization of the party, for which a committee of elders was being formed which would forward recommendations to him for strengthening the party.



Nawaz Sharif

She said the prime minister paid attention to the health of Nawaz Sharif, who was facilitated by the government and courts according to recommendations of doctors. She expressed surprise that nobody saw Nawaz Sharif getting treatment on a hospital bed.

She said people wanted to know whether Pakistan did not have the facilities to diagnose the disease of Nawaz Sharif.

People had the right to know about the diagnosis and health condition of Nawaz Sharif so that their questions should be answered, she added. “Till the final diagnosis of Nawaz Sharif, there would be conjectures from people. As a political adversary we want Nawaz Sharif to come back to his country.”


Economy and price hike

She went on to say that the government through its management of the economy brought down deficits of budget and current account, besides reducing circular debt.

The committee members expressed determination to bring the benefits of the improving economy to the people and decided that the provinces would form a strategy to overcome the challenges of inflation and unemployment.

She said the prime minister had set direction of the economy right and now the government was focused on wealth creation, ease of doing business, industrialization and restructuring and reform of institutions. The committee discussed short and long term policies and programmes for public welfare.

The party leaders deliberated on the reasons for price hikes and decided to keep the public informed about the relief measures through an effective media strategy. During the meeting, priorities were set for ensuring good governance and better performance through a comprehensive plan.

Dr Firdous said opposition had nothing to sell to the public as it had failed to find any scandal of the government and was only attempting to taint the clean image of Imran Khan.

She said the committee condemned the thieves and looters who were targeting the personality of Imran Khan to undermine his successes, hide their own theft and distract people from the cases against them.

People were looking at what the opposition was doing, Dr Firdous said, adding opposition was targeting the government and doing character assassination of PM Imran Khan. She informed that the PM would go to the people to highlight the achievements and mega projects of the government.



PTI to ask ECP

to club all foreign funding cases