Prime Minister Imran Khan has finally welcomed the ECP ‘s scrutiny of the PTI’s funding. He claims that the more the PTI’s accounts are scrutinized, the more factual clarity will emerge for showing his party the only one in the country with a proper donor base premised on proper political fundraising. Many will welcome his statement which accepts the challenge posed by the Scrutiny Committee’s report. One would also agree that there should be a similar ECP scrutiny into the funding of the other two major political parties, the PPP and PML(N), which should be given sufficient time to defend their financial statements as was done in the case of the PTI.
Had the PTI cooperated with the ECP when a petition by Akbar S Babar accusing Mr Khan of being involved in malpractices in foreign fundings was lodged in 2014, the matter would have been settled in a year or so. What is more, the scrutiny of the accounts of other parties, particularly the PPP and PML(N), too would have been completed years back. The PTI instead resorted to delaying tactics which created a perception that it wanted to cover up some wrongdoings. These included changing the PTI’s counsel, seeking delays, and calling into question the ECP’s authority to hear the case regarding the party’s financial matters. This consumed seven years. More recently it asked the ECP to keep the scrutiny report confidential which was interpreted as an attempt to hide facts from the public.
The findings of the scrutiny committee support some of the apprehensions. The report confirms that the party received funding from foreign nationals and companies. Further that the PTI under-reported funds and concealed dozens of its bank accounts, disclosing only 12 accounts out of 77. Further, it denied access to its accounts in Canada and New Zealand.
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry has termed the report “inaccurate” He claimed that there were two relevant transactions of Rs150m and Rs160m, which had been duplicated and therefore counted twice by the committee. Minister Asad Umar claims that the PTI had the most transparent process of receiving funds as everything was documented. The PTI is within its right to challenge the conclusions drawn in the report at the hearings beginning from January 18. It is for the ECP to finally pass the judgment after listening to all side.