Prohibited Funding Received
After eight long years, the ECP finally announced its decision on Tuesday in relation to PTI’s foreign funding case as it gave a unanimous verdict that the PTI did indeed receive prohibited funding and issued a notice to the party asking why the funds should not be confiscated. A three-member ECP bench headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sikander (CEC) Sultan Raja announced the verdict where it was revealed that the political party received funds from 34 foreign nationals and 351 companies based outside the country.
The case went on longer than it should have considering that it was filed back in 2014, but it is good to see this chapter come to a close. The ECP has also declared that the PTI took ownership of only eight accounts, kept 13 hidden which were linked to the party, and failed to mention three. In relation to the recent story featured in the Financial Times, the verdict also confirmed that the party knowingly and wilfully received funding from Wootton Cricket Limited, operated by business tycoon Arif Naqvi.
The Form-1 submitted by Imran Khan was found to be grossly inaccurate by the electoral watchdog. Regardless of what PTI officials claim about how the party chairman had no idea about these accounts or the flow of funds, the fact of the matter is that for five years under review, Mr Imran Khan filed submissions that were wrong, and even during the course of the case proceedings, the PTI continued to conceal and withhold complete and full disclosure of the source of its funds.
This verdict has made clear that there exists no simplistic binary such as clean versus corrupt or good versus bad when it comes to the political landscape, regardless of what the PTI propaganda machine would have you believe. Those that vociferously criticise other political parties for supposed wrongdoings or corrupt practices must do the same in this case, because it is a matter of principle. The PTI can ask for other parties to be investigated for foreign funding, but even if they are found to be guilty, it would not change the reality that the PTI was on the receiving end of prohibited funds and lied about it.
If other parties are guilty of the same, they should be held accountable in their own right. What is settled is that the moral ground the PTI was staking a claim on has extremely shaky foundations. Continued obfuscation and attempts to challenge the verdict by questioning the impartiality of the ECP will not reap any dividends.