ISLAMABAD: Before the three-member (Election Commission of Pakistan ECP) bench, headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, the PTI continued its final technical arguments. The PTI financial expert noted the 11 bank accounts disowned by the PTI on March 15, 2022, which the party owned all along the four years the scrutiny committee scrutinised the accounts, were in fact provincial accounts where money from the central accounts was transferred to run the party affairs in the respective provinces.
The PTI expert explained that all funds, received from abroad, were deposited in the declared accounts, as all the details are kept in the central finance section. The bench was told that all relevant record had been presented to the Election Commission.
It merits a mention here that the 11 PTI accounts disowned by it were detected in a written reply submitted before the ECP on March 15, 2012. According to page 92 of the ECP Scrutiny Committee Report, the PTI had revealed only two bank accounts each in the annual audit reports for fiscal years 2008-12 and four for the year 2013.
However, in contrast, the record from the State Bank of Pakistan revealed that the PTI allegedly concealed five accounts in year 2008, seven in 2009, 13 in 2010, 14 in 2011, and 14 in 2012-13. The PTI, in its written reply before the ECP on March 15, 2022, had disowned 11 of its accounts by saying that the accounts came to the knowledge and information of the PTI upon the disclosure of the same by the State Bank of Pakistan in 2018. The PTI had also claimed that all those who opened, operated and received donations in these accounts did so without authority “as these individuals were not authorised by competent authority for the opening of these bank accounts” and that the “bank accounts were operated without the knowledge of the PTI finance department”. The party also opted for staying away from the millions of rupees and dollars received and transacted in these accounts from Pakistan and abroad, having no knowledge of these accounts.
When the PTI financial expert concluded his arguments for the day, PTI lawyer Anwar Mansoor Khan requested adjournment until the first week of June as he was travelling to Switzerland, and upon the PTI lawyer’s insistence that he must be present while the financial expert makes his final arguments, the CEC allowed adjournment until June 1, 2022.
After the hearing, talking to reporters outside the ECP, the petitioner, Akbar S Babar, claimed there is documentary evidence that refuted the PTI’s claim that the 11 accounts it disowned were opened and operated without the knowledge of the PTI finance department. He added if those accounts were opened and operated by top PTI leadership illegally, why no action had been taken against them.
Whereas, he continued, as per the documents, not only did the PTI central finance board managed two of these accounts, but the PTI central finance secretary of the time in 2012, Sardar Azhar Tariq Khan, communicated with the managers of the PTI accounts intimating them about operating instructions of the PTI central finance board.
Babar lamented the delay and termed it a continuing process over the last eight years and noted the historic delay in the foreign funding case is due to allegedly undue pandering of the accused by the constitutional bodies.