- Former information minister says ECP has become a subsidiary of the PDM
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Fawad Chaudhry questioned on Sunday the summons received by his party leaders from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), arguing that they did not hold public office in 2011-12 — the period in which the party allegedly received prohibited funding.
“I do not understand in what capacity FIA is issuing notices to our leaders. These people were not public office holders in 2011-12,” Fawad said at a news conference in Islamabad. “We are, however, cooperating with the FIA.”
On Friday, the FIA formed a five-member committee to monitor inquiry teams from the agency's respective zones that are investigating the prohibited funding case. The agency subsequently summoned numerous key PTI figures, including Imran Ismail, Seema Zia, Mahmoodur Rasheed, and Asad Qaiser.
The investigation follows the finding of the ECP in which the electoral body concluded that the PTI received prohibited funds.
During the news conference, the ex-minister stated that the PTI would also investigate the cases filed against its workers and leaders in Punjab in the wake of the "Azadi March."
He stated that the team could summon Rana Sanaullah, Ataullah Tarar of the PML-N, and others.
“They expect us to cooperate with the FIA, and we expect the same from them,” he said.
Regarding the Election Commission of Pakistan's (ECP) ruling in the matter, Fawad asserted that all account information had been disclosed.
He also advocated for an annual audit of all political parties, noting that no "leniency" should be shown in this regard.
He alleged that the ECP had become a subsidiary of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM).
He stated that the party would petition the courts to complete the PML-N audit within 15 days. He asserted that the party had collected Rs10 million without declaring the funds. "No record of it exists."
He then asserted that the PML-N had spent Rs1.3 billion on media advertisements without citing a source. "Additionally, they exploited their accounts to launder money. This is the case that must be heard and decided by the ECP."
Speaking about PPP, Fawad stated that former president Asif Ali Zardari led one faction of the party, while Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari led the other.
"According to their reasoning, one party funded the other. However, per ECP regulations, no political party may support another political party. The PPP has disclosed its expenditures but has not disclosed the source of the funds."
Fawad questioned why ECP was "covering" the PPP and PML-N, and demanded that the scrutiny committee disclose its conclusion in these cases.
He further alleged that certain "journalists and Baloch rebels" were harping on the disqualification of PTI leader Imran Khan.
"Who is courageous enough to disqualify Imran? Because you fear he would win a two-thirds majority, you are not announcing elections,” he said, adding that a smear campaign against the former premier had started.
Commenting on the piecemeal acceptance of PTI lawmakers' resignations, Fawad stated that former deputy speaker Qasim Suri had already accepted all of them and that the current speaker "had no right" to accept them in the manner he did.
"The government is holding nine by-elections because it has grown tired of its allies. They intend to gradually amass seats in order to gain a majority. That is their political strategy," he remarked.