Cabinet principally decide to send ‘declaration’ to SC against PTI: Marriyum

— Committee formed to consider survey for rehabilitation, reconstruction plan

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Cabinet on Thursday principally decided to send a “declaration” against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to the Supreme Court in light of the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) verdict in its prohibited funding case.

“The PTI has been declared a foreign-aided party by the ECP in its decision which was given after eight years under the Political Parties Order 2002 and the Election Act 2017,” she said while addressing a news conference after the Federal Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

She said the Law Minister and ministry briefed the federal cabinet over the legal position of the verdict. The law ministry was given three days time to prepare the declaration for presenting it before the cabinet in its next meeting, she added.

Citing the section 3 of Political Parties Order 2002 which stated that “if a party receives any aid, financial or otherwise from any government or political party of a foreign country or any portion of its funds from a foreign nation”, she said the federal government was legally bound to take action against the PTI for “knowingly” and “wilfully” receiving prohibited funding from a number of foreign firms and individuals.

She said the ECP investigated the PTI’s prohibited funding for eight years, while the party sought 51 adjournments, changed nine lawyers and filed 11 petitions with the court for seeking delay in announcement of the decision. The minister said the PTI got enough time to justify their funding, but it failed to do so and now its leaders appeared in the media to respond to the queries over “foreign funding” to their party.

She said the people needed to understand that it was not a matter between the PTI and PML-N, but rather between the former, the State Bank of Pakistan and ECP. The case against the foreign funding received by the PTI was filed by its own member Akbar S Babar and the PML-N had nothing to do with the matter, she added.

The minister said other aspects of the ECP’s decision were very important which were related to the “false affidavit” submitted by the PTI’s chairman and concealment of 16 bank accounts opened in the name of its senior leadership including Imran Khan and employees of the party’s secretariat.

According to Marriyum who cited the ECP’s verdict, the foreign individuals and companies which funded the PTI included Wootton Cricket Limited, Bristol engineering services, E planet Trustees, PTI USA LLC, PTI Canada Corporation, Dunpec Pty Ltd, Australia, Romita Shetty—an Indian business women, and others.

She said Imran Khan, as chairman of PTI, had submitted an affidavit with the ECP which stated that “no funds from any source prohibited under the Political Parties Order, 2002 were received by the party; statements contain an accurate financial position and the information is correct to the best of my knowledge.”

Imran Khan submitted the same affidavit to the ECP five times with his signature, Marriyum said while castigating him for consistently telling lies in writing. According to the Political Parties Order, all the parties had to submit this affidavit with the ECP every year, she added.

As it had been established that the PTI had received foreign funding in the bank accounts of its employees, the cabinet had directed the interior ministry and Federal Investigation Agency to conduct an independent and impartial inquiry into the matter while keeping in view different aspects including money laundering, fake accounts, misappropriation of funds and above all the utilization of donations for the political purposes.

The FIA had directed to immediately start an inquiry in collaboration with the relevant financial and investigative departments in light of the ECP’s verdict, she added. It was the first time in the history of Pakistan that a party had been declared a foreign aided party, she said, adding the party accounts were used by its leadership for personal purposes.

At the outset of the cabinet’s briefing, Marriyum said fateha was offered for the military officers who embraced martyrdom in Balochistan in a helicopter crash and for those who were killed in flash floods. The cabinet appreciated Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Mufti Abdul Shakoor for providing best-possible facilities to the pilgrims during Hajj.

She said the forum had also accorded approval for the appointment of Farmanullah as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Pakistan Reinsurance Company Limited (PRCL). Similarly, she said detailed reports of National Disasters Management Authority (NDMA) and Provincial Disasters Management Authorities (PDMAs) were presented before the cabinet on rescue and relief activities in the flood-hit areas.

The minister said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif was personally monitoring the relief activities in flood-hit areas. The prime minister had also visited Balochistan and other areas and ordered round-the-clock monitoring of rescue, relief and rehabilitation operations. The PM also visited the flood-affected areas today at Dera Ismail Khan and Tank.

In line with directives of the prime minister, she said the federal government was in process of distributing compensation cheques worth Rs1 million among each family which lost their members in the flash floods. Apart from this, Rs 500,000 was being given to each family for the reconstruction of the damaged houses.

Marriyum said the cabinet had expressed satisfaction over the ongoing rescue and relief operations in the country and lauded the remarkable working relationship between the NDMA, PDMAs and Pakistan Army.

The prime minister, she said, had also directed to conduct a fact-based, transparent and comprehensive joint survey with NDMA, provincial governments and PDMAs to assess the damage caused by the floods in different areas.

The PM also approved the constitution of a committee under the supervision of Finance Minister Miftah Ismail to consider the survey and plan accordingly with the provinces for rehabilitation and reconstruction. The names of the remaining members of the committee would be announced soon.

The cabinet, she said, had directed the Ministry of Economic Affairs to contact the international donor agencies working in Pakistan to discuss the provision of resources for reconstruction and rehabilitation in the flood-affected areas.

She said the prime minister also instructed the NDMA, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the concerned federal agencies to approach the local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and philanthropists to speed up the rehabilitation work.

A framework agreement between the governments of Pakistan and Denmark was also approved which would open a new chapter for economic relations between the two countries, she added. Other benefits of the agreement included interest-free loans, 35 per cent subsidy and the transfer of Danish technology to Pakistan.

Mariyyum said the Ministry of Interior had recommended the cabinet to reduce the sentences of prisoners by three months on the occasion of Independence Day. The cabinet after a detailed deliberation had directed both the ministries, Interior and the Law to again present the summary on the sentence remission of the prisoners after a review.

In that regard, in light of relevant laws, special reduction in sentences should be recommended for elderly prisoners, women, children and all those who have completed two-thirds of their sentence, she noted. She said the Ministry of Planning and Development informed the federal cabinet regarding the implementation of ongoing development schemes under the Sustainable Development Program.

On the occasion, the prime minister directed the finance minister and Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal to re-evaluate the development projects and inform the cabinet regarding the availability of resources for their implementation.

Marriyum said the forum paid tributes to the Federal Secretary Ministry of Economic Affairs Mian Asad Hayatuddin for his services for the country spanning over three decades. To a query, she said the current government was different from the previous one which victimized the political opponents without any justification.

Had the ECP’s decision in prohibited funding came against any other party during the Imran led government, all the members of that party would have been landed in the jail.

She said the inquiry would be conducted under the law and its report would be made public. As regards the incident of Masjid e Nabvi, she said it was very unfortunate as the holy land should not be used for political purposes.

The Saudi government had given decision in this regard which was respected by the government. She said the punishment was given to prevent resurrection of such incidents in future.

The nation had witnessed as to how three times prime minister was disqualified for not taking salary from his son, she responded to another query. She said the present government did not believe in the political victimization but the law would take its course.

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