By-elections on 9 NA seats vacated by PTI to be held on September 25
Imran Khan to contest by-elections on all nine NA seats simultaneously
ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Friday issued a notice to PTI chairman Imran Khan and summoned him on August 23 in the prohibited funding case, in which it had ruled that the party had received foreign funds.
According to the ECP website, the case titled “Notice to Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf in terms of Rule 6 of Political Parties Rule 2006, in compliance of judgment by the commission dated August 2 in case title Akbar Sher Babar” has been fixed for hearing on August 23, at 10am.
Earlier this week, the electoral body, in a unanimous verdict, ruled 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 Sikandar (CEC) Sultan Raja had passed the judgment in a case filed by PTI founding member Akbar S. Babar pending since November 14, 2014.
In the written verdict, the commission noted that the party “knowingly and willfully” received funding from Wootton Cricket Limited, operated by business tycoon Arif Naqvi. The party was a “willing recipient” of prohibited money of $2,121,500, it said.
The ECP said that the party “knowingly and willfully” also received donations from Bristol Engineering Services (a UAE-based company), E-Planet Trustees (a Cayman Islands private registered company), SS Marketing Manchester (a UK-based private company), PTI USA LLC-6160 and PTI USA LLC-5975 which were “hit by prohibition and in violation of Pakistani laws”.
It went on to say that the party also received donations through PTI Canada Corporation and PTI UK Public Limited Company. “From both the companies, the amounts received into its accounts of PTI Pakistan are hit by prohibition and in violation of Pakistani laws.”
Further, the party received donations from Australia-based company Dunpec Limited, and Pakistani companies Anwar Brothers, Zain Cotton and Young Sports which was again in violation of the law.
“PTI Pakistan, through fundraising campaigns by PTI USA LLC-6160 and PTI USA LLC-5975, was a recipient of donations from 34 foreign nationals and 351 foreign-based companies. Collection of donations and contributions from foreign nationals and companies are hit by prohibition and in violation of Pakistani laws,” it said.
The electoral watchdog also said that the PTI had been found to be a beneficiary of donations made by Romita Shetty, a US-based business woman of Indian-origin which was in violation of the law.
The ECP said the party had only owned eight accounts before the commission and declared 13 accounts to be unknown. “The data obtained from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) reveals that all the 13 accounts disowned by the PTI were opened and operated by senior PTI management and leadership at [a] central and provincial level.”
The commission noted that the party also failed to mention three accounts which were also being operated by the party’s senior leadership. Non-disclosure and concealment of 16 bank accounts by the PTI is a “serious lapse” on part of the PTI’s leadership and in violation of Article 17(3) of the Constitution, it said.
Disqualification reference against Imran
Separately, the ECP has also accepted for hearing a reference seeking the disqualification of Imran from public office filed by a group of MNAs associated with the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM). It has been fixed for hearing on August 18, according to the commission’s website.
The reference was filed yesterday by MNA Barrister Mohsin Nawaz Ranjha to Chief Election Commissioner Sikander Sultan Raja, carrying signatures of lawmakers Agha Hassan Baloch, Salahudeen Ayubi, Ali Gohar Khan, Syed Rafiullah Agha and Saad Waseem Sheikh.
It demanded the ECP to disqualify Imran under Sections 2 and 3 of Article 63 of the Constitution, read with Article 62(1)(f). It also carried documentary evidence to corroborate their claims against the ex-PM.
Imran Khan’s interview
PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Wednesday asked if the country could be held back for the appointment of the army chief, suggesting that instead of thinking about what will happen in November, the focus should be on bringing stability back to Pakistan.
In an interview with journalist Imran Riaz Khan on Express News, Imran said that while the army played an important part in the country’s national security, economic stability was equally important.
“We have to choose […] do we want stability or a new army chief?” he said in response to a question.
He then went on to give the example of the Soviet Union, that according to him, broke apart due to economic instability.
“Right now, the more important issue than the army chief’s appointment is stability and only one thing can bring that — elections,” Imran said, highlighting that the aim should be to prevent Pakistan from falling into a place where “things go out of hand”.
He highlighted that the markets were tumbling, industries were closing down and the economy was in a freefall. “Now is the time to decide. But this fear in Zardari and Shehbaz [of losing the elections] is sabotaging the entire country,” the PTI chairman went on to say.
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, who was given an extension by the previous PTI government in 2019, will leave his position on November 29 when his second three-year tenure comes to an end.
The next army chief’s appointment is at times mentioned as one of the major subplots in the ongoing political crisis engulfing the country.
Neutrals nominated Sikandar Sultan as CEC
Imran fired broadsides at the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and criticised Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja.
He said that it was the “neutrals” — a euphemism Khan uses to describe the military establishment — who suggested the latter’s name as the head of the ECP.
He said that according to the 18th Amendment, heads of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), ECP and caretaker governments were supposed to be decided amicably by all the political parties.
“At the time of CEC’s appointment, there had been a deadlock [among the parties]. So, the neutrals approached us and said that the country needed to move forward.
“They suggested Sikandar Sultan’s name. I didn’t even know him [back then]. But people told us that he was PML-N’s man,” Imran recalled, saying that when he told the neutral about this, they guaranteed that the CEC would stay neutral.
“But we made a mistake of appointing him because in all these years, from day one, he has been passing decisions against us,” the PTI leader regretted.
And the worst thing the CEC did was create hurdles in the approval of the electronic voting machines (EVM), he continued.
By-elections on 9 NA seats vacated
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Friday announced that the by-election on nine National Assembly seats vacated by the PTI will be held on Sep 25 — a week after the resignations of lawmakers on the seats in question were accepted by NA Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf.
The NA speaker had on July 28 accepted the resignations of 11 MNAs — nine on general seats and two on reserved seats for women — belonging to the PTI, triggering recriminations from the party for the “piecemeal” acceptance, as well as a legal battle in the Islamabad High Court. The MNAs were denotified on July 30.
The PTI lawmakers were among the more than 100 who resigned en masse on April 11, two days after former prime minister Imran Khan was ousted from the top office in a no-confidence vote.
According to an ECP statement issued today, the by-elections for the constituencies of NA-22 Mardan, NA-24 Charsadda, NA-31 Peshawar, NA-45 Kurram, NA-108 Faisalabad, NA-118 Nankana Sahib and Karachi’s NA-237, NA-239, and NA-246 will be held on Sep 25.
The electoral watchdog said candidates could submit their nomination papers from Aug 10 to 13, which would be verified by Aug 17, while election symbols would be issued to the candidates on August 29. The last date to decide appeals by the appellate tribunal is Aug 25, according to the ECP.
Imran to contest by-elections
Former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan will contest by-elections on nine National Assembly seats scheduled to be held on September 25, according to a party statement issued on Friday.
“In the by-elections of 9 National Assembly constituencies to be held on September 25, Chairman Imran Khan himself will contest from all the seats,” the PTI announced on its official Twitter handle.
Earlier today, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) issued the schedule for the vacated national assembly seats.
According to the schedule released by the ECP, the candidates can submit their nomination papers from August 10 to 13, which will be verified by August 17, whereas the election symbols will be issued to the candidates on August 29.
According to the ECP, the by-elections will be held for the constituencies of NA-22 Mardan, NA-24 Charsadda, NA-31 Peshawar, NA-45 Kurram, NA-108 Faisalabad, NA-118 Nankana Sahib, as well as NA-237, 239, and 246 of Karachi.
The seats fell vacant after National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf On July 28 accepted the resignations of 11 Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf members exactly 109 days after they resigned from their seats.
After losing 15 out of 20 seats in Punjab in by-polls and finally losing the chief ministership of the province, the government had decided to move ahead with accepting the resignations of PTI lawmakers pending since April 11.