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ISLAMABAD: Federal ministers of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and senior leaders on Tuesday hinted at “strict” accountability of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leadership including its chairman Imran Khan in the wake of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP)’s verdict in the prohibited funding case.

Speaking at a news conference, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif along with the newly-sworn in federal minister Ayaz Sadiq maintained that the ECP’s verdict “blatantly” exposed Imran Khan to have received the prohibited funding and the government will decide in the coming 24 hours about filing a reference in Supreme Court in light of the ECP’s verdict.

Asif termed the ECP’s verdict “historic”, saying it would prove to be a “milestone” in the country’s political history.

He said that after the ECP’s verdict, individuals from various countries including the United States, India, and Israel have been proved to be the sponsors of the PTI.

“These foreign agents have their sponsors from the countries, top of which is the US, Israel, India, and Australia while they are accusing us to be the behind the so-called foreign conspiracy of regime change,” he maintained, adding that the implications of the ECP’s verdict will be seen in the coming few days.

He pointed out that there are cases of many MNAs who were disqualified for not declaring mere Rs10,000, Rs30,000, and Rs40,000, and former premier Nawaz Sharif had to face lifetime disqualification for not declaring getting 10,000 dirhams from his son in the Panama papers case.

“He (Imran Khan) has given an affidavit, but fake… He even speaks lies on the oath,” he maintained, while further criticising the PTI chairman.

To a question, he said that after consulting the legal experts, a process on the ECP’s verdict will start in a day or two. “It is right that the ECP has thrown the ball in the government’s court and it is the government to proceed in the light of the law. The government has to file the reference in the judiciary in the coming 24 hours,” he added.

Responding to the PTI leadership’s criticism of the chief election commissioner (CEC), the defence minister maintained that he was the eyewitness that the incumbent CEC was appointed with Imran Khan’s consent.

He recalled that when a deadlock arose on the appointment of the CEC, PTI leader Pervez Khattak through a paper handed over the name of the incumbent CEC Raja Sultan Sikandar who was appointed to the position after consultations.

“Now, the institutions will start accountability of them (the PTI leaders),” he added.

Responding to the PTI leaders for demanding that the law should be alike for all, he said that his party has been advocating for the same that there should be one law for all and asked the PTI whether they forgot the “one-sided” actions against its opponents during its previous government.

Ayaz Sadiq, while addressing the presser, alleged that Imran Khan was brought into power by the Indian and Israeli lobby.

Referring to the Toshakhana case against Imran Khan, he said that the speaker National Assembly will send a reference to the ECP until August 4, 2022, which under the law, will be decided in 30 days.

“In all these, one thing is very important to ponder on. Arif Naqvi who is facing trial in the UK is being extradited from the US and those people who were involved with Arif Naqvi, would also be extradited. If Imran Khan was also declared to be a co-accused and if he is extradited, then he has to undergo a DNA test as per the case against him in a California court,” he maintained, while referring to a case in the US court to prove the parentage of a girl.

He further said that the federal cabinet will see whether the prohibited money received by the PTI comes under money laundering and is a violation of the FATF laws.

“The repeated concealment of the party’s accounts is a clear case of Article 62 and 63, which I think both the articles are applicable on every para of the ECP’s verdict,” he maintained, adding that “the US may extradite Imran Khan and that’s why they started talking against the US”.

Responding to the PTI’s plan to file a reference against the CEC, he said that it is a constitutional post and cannot be removed on their demands. “The CEC is a constitutional post. He can neither be removed on their demand nor by any other body,” he added.

He also announced that the NAB and other institutions such as the FIA would now also hold a probe into the alleged misappropriation by Farah Gogi. “Now as the case has been referred to the government and the institutions will hold an investigation and take it to the logical conclusion,” he said, adding that the NAB would also reopen the cases the PTI had recommended to shut.

In a news conference, separately, senior PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said the judgment has proved the ex-prime minister is the “biggest thief”, adding that Khan received huge funding illegally from 351 companies and 34 foreign individuals including from India, Israeli, and the US.

“The law does not allow receiving funds from even a single foreigner. If the amount was meant for welfare, then how Rs550 million were transferred into the accounts of the political party,” asked Abbasi.

He maintained that the whole “conspiracy” stands exposed before the people as the funds were received by the PTI from foreign nationals and companies to do politics in Pakistan. He added that the law will take its course on the matter now.

“The government will do whatever it has to do in view of the ECP findings,” he stated, adding that the people of Pakistan should decide whether they could allow “this dishonest man to remain in politics any longer”.

He also questioned whether Imran Khan could still be called “Sadiq” and “Ameen” (honest and righteous) after the ECP’s verdict.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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