LAHORE: Admitting that his party had indeed received funds from businessman Arif Naqvi, former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan claimed on Thursday that all the funds came through banking channels and were disclosed in the party’s audited accounts.
His remarks came a day after the Financial Times published a story claiming that Mr Naqvi’s company “bankrolled the PTI” despite Pakistani laws forbidding foreign nationals and companies from funding political parties.
Talking to ARY News, Mr Khan called Arif Naqvi “a bright star” and a “rapidly rising Pakistani star in the global financial world,” whose rise among powerful quarters “would have greatly benefitted Pakistan”.
“I had known him [Mr Naqvi] for a long time [and] he gave a lot of money to Shaukat Khanum [hospital]. He used to live in Dubai and supported our fund-raising events,” said Mr Khan.
Mr Naqvi organised two fund raising dinners in 2012 for the PTI. The first one was in London where he organised a cricket match at his own ground and the second event was in Dubai where he invited top businessmen, added Mr Khan.
“This is called political fund raising. All over the world money is raised like this and PTI was the first party [in Pakistan] to raise money through political fundraising,” Mr Khan said, while adding that the party has data of 40,000 donors who gave the money. Calling the charges against Mr Naqvi “tragic,” the PTI chairman likened his fall to that of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI).
He added that as per his knowledge, in Mr Naqvi’s, case no one has suffered any loss and everyone got their money back.
Mr Khan also demanded the ECP probe the funding of PPP and PML-N along with the PTI, as he claimed that the two parties “raise money through funding from big businessmen”
“After coming into the government, they favour those businessmen. This is called crony capitalism.”
“I had learned that in one instance, Nawaz Sharif used his party for money laundering and the PPP embezzled [Pakistan] embassy’s fund in the US and moved it to their party’s account,” the former prime minister claimed.
He added that if the government thinks it can disqualify him in the foreign funding case, the PPP and the PML-N leaders would also go to jail.
Commenting on the report that Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Bajwa contacted US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman for expediting the IMF loan program, Mr Khan said that this shows that neither the foreign governments nor the IMF trust the government and “that is why the army chief took the responsibility”.
“If the army Chief was contacting the US and seeking help, it means that the country was getting weaker.”
However, he added that the US’ help would not come without any reciprocal demands and added that he feared “those demands would compromise Pakistan’s national security”.
Linking the current economic crisis with political instability, Mr Khan said that when his government was toppled as a result of a conspiracy it led to political instability that tanked the economy.
“You have seen that everything has been downhill since then. [All economic indicators, be it the] industry, tax collection, exports or remittances, have gone down,” he said while adding that the only way to bring back political stability was free and fair elections.
Earlier, addressing a meeting via video link, Mr Khan directed the provincial government to focus on the swift completion of two mega projects — the Ravi Riverfront Urban Development and the Lahore Central Business District Development projects, as well as other projects launched during his tenure as the country’s prime minister.
Presided by Punjab Chief Minister Parvez Elahi, the meeting was attended by former federal ministers Fawad Chaudhry, Moonis Elahi, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Farrukh Habib, Dr. Shahbaz Gill and Asad Umar. The head of the Ravi Urban Development Authority (RUDA), Lahore Central Business District Development Authority (LCBDDA) and other senior officials attended the meeting.
The former PM said the Pervaiz Elahi-led PTI government would leave no stone unturned to ensure timely completion of all mega projects, including those launched by RUDA and LCBDDA because these projects of public interest cannot be left in the middle.
“I have already given directions to the Punjab government in this regard,” he added.
Addressing the meeting, the Punjab chief minister said in a bid to ensure transparency in public welfare projects and schemes, the government would evolve a comprehensive and fool-proof monitoring system. “I would personally monitor the progress on these projects regularly,” he said.