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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Fawad Chaudhry Friday said that all the funds which the party received from Wootton Cricket Ltd, owned by Pakistani businessman Arif Naqvi, were transferred through legal channels.

In response to a report by a British daily which revealed that Naqvi “transferred three instalments directly to the PTI in 2013 adding up to a total of $2.12m,” Chaudhry said that “interestingly despite the fact that Sharif brothers received $20 million is mentioned only as passing remarks whereas legal funding of $1.3 million to PTI is pegged as something drastic, angling of British daily is worse than some Pakistani media groups.”

He said that Naqvi submitted an affidavit in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) that all funding is legal, same affidavit he submitted to the PTI if there is any illegality it is between Naqvi and the UK authorities.

He asked the local media not to portray “our people as villains”, as when a Pakistani Muslims’ influence crosses a certain benchmark, it is not welcomed by the “Israeli lobby”.

“Arif Naqvi’s Abraaj Group became a $14 billion company. And when any Muslim and especially a Pakistani Muslim’s influence crosses a certain limit, then it is not welcomed by the Israeli lobby,” he added.

“Why should we become part of a propaganda campaign when we know it’s Israel-backed,” he tweeted.

According to the report, Naqvi, who is currently under house arrest in London and faces extradition to the United States, organized the “Wootton T20 Cup” in the Oxfordshire village of Wootton to raise funds for the PTI “and foreign nationals as well as citizens of Pakistan sent millions of dollars to Wootton Cricket — before money was transferred from the account to Pakistan for the PTI.

The guests at the “weekend of sports and drinking” were “asked to pay between £2,000 and £2,500 each to attend, with the money going to unspecified ‘philanthropic causes’, the report says.

The British daily has based its report on “a bank statement covering the period between February 28 and May 30 2013 for a Wootton Cricket account in the UAE.” It has also quoted from email communication between Naqvi and Rafique Lakhani, the senior Abraaj executive responsible for managing cash flow. At least, $2 million to the Wootton Cricket account came from Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak al-Nahyan, a member of Abu Dhabi’s royal family, the report claimed.

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak al-Nahyan is now UAE’s minister for tolerance and an investor in Pakistan. Abraaj Group also transferred $1.3m to the PTI and expensed the cost to a holding company through which it controlled K-Electric, the report said

It said that the funding was made before the 2013 general elections that turned the PTI from a one-seat party to a sizeable political force in the parliament.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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