LAHORE - The PTI, which has been facing acute shortage of funds to continue its Azadi sit-in, has decided to send a 4-member team to the US and Europe for fund-raising, besides collecting party donations from Punjab under a special campaign started this month, The Nation has learnt.

Top aides of Imran Khan privy to the developments on this count told this correspondent on Friday that the party is facing acute funds shortage since the first week of September, 2014 to pursue the Azadi March. They informed it was earlier planned that the party chief would visit the US and Europe for fund-raising but the same was cancelled keeping in view the strong possibilities of propaganda drive by the government against Imran Khan.

Divulging further details, Imran’s top aides said that a special fund-raising campaign in Punjab has also been started from this month under which an aspirant for the Punjab Assembly seat ticket would donate Rs300,000 to the party fund, while the National Assembly aspirant would donate Rs600,000. They added the aspirants from Sargodha and Gujrat had already donated the amount to the party fund before the public meetings in both cities.

It may be mentioned here, Imran Khan had stated from Azadi container sometimes back that he would personally supervise the matter of party tickets for the next elections, following a strict procedure to award tickets to the right candidates.

However, collecting party funds from the ticket aspirants in Punjab much earlier than the next general elections says all about the PTI chairman’s claims.

When asked about it, they insisted that next year would be the year of midterm elections.

When contacted, senior PTI leader Asad Umer said three to four members team will go abroad for the fund-raising campaign; however their names have not been finalised so far. The team will be finalised before Ashura, as they are most likely to proceed after the Ashura, he added.  

When asked about Imran’s foreign tour for the fund-raising drive, Asad replied, “Imran can’t leave the country, as the Azadi campaign is at its height.”

The financial cost of Islamabad sit-in is Rs1.25 million per day and monthly cost is Rs37.5 million, while Asad Umer conformed this cost.

About the resumption or possible re-launch of Azadi drive on November 30 as announced by the PTI chairman, Asad said, “It will not be re-launch but resumption with an aggressive push. Hectic fund-raising is part of the drive for resumption of Azadi campaign on November 30 with a powerful push.” He added that an informal meeting was held to ponder over the rough outline for November 30 event while formal moots for the purpose would start after Ashura.

A senior PTI leader, said, “Had 150,000 marchers been in the march at the time of entering Islamabad, this entire episode might have been wrapped up in 72 hours and no issue of funds scarcity would have arisen today.”

He added, “We had never planned the Azadi sit-in for more than three days but I must acknowledge that we failed to amass number of marchers who could build up pressure on the government as well as the establishment to seriously ponder over our demands for the prime minister’s resignation and fresh elections under a reformed electoral system.”

He informed the party in the US and Europe has cut down the donations in view of the indefinite time period of the Azadi sit-in, while some of them had stopped funding. He said that business tycoons from Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa belonging to the PTI had already politely refused to fund the campaign.