Nawaz Sharif tells party
not to spare Imran over
foreign funding issue

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LAHORE: Deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif has directed his Pakistan Muslim League not to let Imran Khan off the hook on the basis of the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) damning report on the ruling PTI’s foreign funding case, aggressively agitate the matter and not let both houses of parliament run smoothly till “justice” is done.

The PML-N supreme leader directed his party chief, Shehbaz Sharif, to start holding workers’ conventions at the district and divisional levels in Punjab to mobilise party workers ahead of the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) planned anti-inflation march on Islamabad in March, Dawn has reported.

“Do not let (prime minister) Imran Khan off the hook as he has been caught red-handed while stealing money through the party’s foreign funding. His so-called honest image has completely been shattered and he should be exposed before the nation,” Nawaz told a party meeting, which was attended by its central and Punjab leadership, including Shehbaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz, in Model Town here on Thursday via video link.

LONDON: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif speaks to reporters in London. Also pictured are Zubair Gul, Ejaz Gul and Nasir Butt.

A participant told Dawn on Friday that Nawaz was “very categorical” regarding the ECP’s findings on the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s foreign funding, directing the PML-N leaders not to let this matter die down till it reaches its logical end. “Don’t let the National Assembly, Punjab Assembly and Senate run smoothly, and aggressively agitate this matter in which the true face of Imran Khan has been exposed,” Mr Sharif was quoted as saying.

Nawaz Sharif, who has been in the UK since November 2019 for ‘medical treatment’, asked the participants to expose PM Imran’s alleged theft on all forums. “We don’t have to allow an easy escape to ‘the selected’ on this matter,” he maintained.

The party insider said approaching the court on this matter also came under discussion, but no decision was made. “The party will first see what action the ECP takes,” he said.

“Nawaz Sharif also directed the party leadership to gear up for a decisive anti-inflation march on Islamabad proposed by the PDM in March. For this purpose, the former PM said workers’ conventions should be held at district and divisional levels and also re-organisation of the party completed at the district level at the earliest,” the insider said.

PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has also announced his party’s long march on Islamabad against the PTI government on Feb 27.

In a statement, the PML-N said its leadership considered the report of the ECP scrutiny committee against PTI and its chairman (Imran Khan) in an “illegal” foreign funding case pending for seven years an “indictment”.

“Imran’s fellow party leaders took illicit funding for the PTI, extorted huge sums of money from foreigners and foreign companies in violation of the law, and deliberately concealed their bank accounts, sources of money and accounts from the ECP. Imran Khan submitted incorrect certificates regarding party accounts to the ECP. Prior to this report, the report of independent auditors has also been submitted to the election commission in which evidence of illegal funding of Rs2.2 billion has come to light.”

The meeting said bank accounts of the four PTI central secretariat employees and the money coming into them, including embezzlement, were concealed and many other important facts still hidden, which was a basic requirement of the law.

Meanwhile, Shehbaz Sharif said in a statement that since Imran Khan could not claim to be honest and trustworthy after being caught red-handed in the foreign funding case, he should resign immediately.

“Imran Niazi cannot hold both the prime minister and PTI chairman offices after it has been established that he is involved in mis-declaration, deliberate concealment (of party funds), misstatement and fraud,” the opposition leader in the National Assembly said.