The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has revealed in a report to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) that Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) is operating 18 undeclared accounts across the country. This comes as a shock to many, especially after the party’s entire tirade against corruption and in favour of accountability and transparency. The investigation into PTI’s funding was launched after founding member Akbar S. Babar submitted a petition to ECP claiming fraudulent activity in the party. The party has a total of 26 accounts across the country, only eight of which are declared. This is a cause for concern and demands the cooperation of the party in the matter.

According to reports, the ECP started investigating the funds of the party last year and that is the time period after which they stopped cooperating with ECP officials. The last meeting regarding the matter took place this Wednesday and no PTI official was present to answer any questions. If the claims of the ECP stand correct, this could translate into a very difficult time for the party because Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan, leader Imran Ismail and several key leaders are allegedly principal and co-principal signatories on these accounts.

The government, in this matter, should carry out the investigation with transparency and fulfil its promise of non-targeted accountability. PM Khan promised that he would be available for investigation if any matter concerning him is brought to the forefront. What is interesting to notice is the effort of the party to push the investigation under the rug. An application by PTI was submitted to ECP to keep the proceedings a secret and a writ petition was also submitted to the Islamabad High Court (IHC). At the same time, the central finance secretary Azhar Tariq has also claimed that the ECP scrutiny committee is exceeding its jurisdiction because it was supposed to authenticate the details submitted by petitioner Babar, which had not yet been done.

Both the claims now need to be verified. If a body is surpassing its jurisdiction, that should be checked along with the efforts of PTI to keep the proceedings of the case a secret. The recent trend to disregard investigative reports based on convenience also creates an air of mistrust and gives the impression that decisions can easily be surpassed. This notion needs to be challenged along with thorough accountability of those in government and in the opposition.