“Mr Clean” caught with his hands dirty?

Published: May 19, 2018
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Pakistani cricketer-turned politician and chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) political party, Imran Khan attends an anti-government rally in front of Parliament building at 'Red Zone' in Islamabad on August 21, 2014. PHOTO: GETTY

It came as a surprise to many of us when Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) filed an application in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), requesting to scrutinise the party’s foreign funding in secrecy. The ECP is hearing a case against the PTI regarding violations of the law while receiving funds.

Imran Khan always speaks a lot against white collar crimes and claims to possess the highest level of honesty; after all, he was proven to be sadiq and ameen (honest and truthful) by the court. His followers blindly follow him, as he is deemed to be the most ethical and just political leader in their eyes. Unfortunately for them, things aren’t always the way they are perceived to be. Akbar S Babar, once a close aide of Imran, has accused him of not only mishandling the party funds but also taking funds from abroad, which are not declared to the ECP.

According to Babar, the funds were not utilised properly by the PTI leadership, including Imran, and further alleges that PTI was given funds by the Indian and Jewish lobby.

It is being alleged by Babar that foreigners, including American Barry C Schneps and US born Indian Indur Dosanjh, had been funding PTI for lobbying in their favour and interests. Babar has also revealed that an audit in 2011 revealed illegal funding in the party, but its report was not made public. He repeatedly claims that the PTI chairman has always refused the audit of the funding sources of the party.

There is an allegation made by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MNA Hanif Abbasi as well, who alleges that Imran’s party funds are coming from Israel.

According to Pakistan’s Constitution,

The Pakistan Election Laws (Volume 1) states in this context: “The contribution made by members or supporters of any party shall be duly recorded by the political parties. Any contribution made, directly or indirectly, by any foreign government, multi-national or domestically incorporated public or private company, firm, trade or professional association shall be prohibited and the parties may accept contributions and donations only from individuals. Any contribution or donation which is prohibited under this Order shall be confiscated to the State in the manner as may be prescribed.”

Section 13, pertaining to information about the sources of a party’s funds, states:

“Every political party shall, in such manner and in such form as may be prescribed or specified by the Chief Election Commissioner, submit to the Election Commission, within 60 days from the close of each financial year, a consolidated statement of accounts of the party audited by a Chartered Accountant containing – (a) annual income and expenses; (b) sources of its funds; and (c) Assets and Liabilities etc.”

In politics, no one is let out easily, and since Imran has been busy in the character assassination of his opponents, this foreign funding case can prove to be catastrophic for him. Revealing those sources can definitely damage him in the current election campaign, as his opponents will highlight the issue and accuse him of taking funds from Jews. The voters in rural Punjab and in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) will definitely not like this, and Imran is aware of this fact, which is why he has filed the application to not make the report public.

He may be riding the horse of luck with all the invisible forces backing him, but he faces the potential threat of losing his vote bank in case the report is leaked. This leaves the ECP in a state of confusion; if for some reason it decides to not to make the report public, Imran’s opponents will accuse the ECP of bias, and to some degree, the perception will be created that the institutions have a soft corner for him. Imran has also filed a petition in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) challenging the jurisdiction of the scrutiny body of election commission to question the source of party funding.

Strangely, Imran has always been vocal against hiding sources of income and he has always stated that it means illegal wealth or money is being earned. Going by Imran’s own theory, hiding PTI’s funding sources is equivalent to hiding suspicious money transactions. It is also strange to see that being a critic of slow proceedings and delaying tactics itself, the PTI has used every possible means to delay the case and slow the proceedings in the election commission tribunal, since the case was filed in 2014. PTI has also not been able to provide a money trail for its funding sources. Instead, over the last four years, it has only applied delaying tactics to buy time.

Nawaz Sharif was disqualified by the Supreme Court (SC) because he was not able to satisfy the court regarding his money trail, which is why Imran should expect the law to be applied to him the same way. If he is clean and there is no corruption or any forbidden source of funding, then why is he not ready to disclose the source publicly?

Moreover, if a political party likely to form the next government cannot provide details of its own funding sources and uses delaying tactics to further linger over the matter, then how can one expect transparency from the party in the future, when it will be at the helm of the affairs in the country?

The other concerning point is the unwillingness of PTI to address the issue within the party and correct its structure. It is very easy to criticise opponents and accuse them of corruption and other allegations, but it is very difficult to fix one’s own house; in this case, the PTI’s party structure and its vague funding sources.

If these charges were levelled on the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) or the PML-N, they would have by now been declared traitors and a security risk to the country by Imran and his party. However, this time, it is Imran and his party under scrutiny, which is why there is complete silence on the matter from PTI. Even the vibrant social media is mum about this case.

It is not a simple case of enmity between the founding member Babar and PTI Chairman Imran; in fact, it is a very serious and strong case against a popular party for taking donations from abroad and not abiding by the country’s law. By no means can Imran or his party be accused of taking help intentionally from the Jewish or Indian lobby, but Imran needs to come up with some answers and he needs to make a good internal party structure that can stop discrepancies in the financial accounts of PTI. He also needs to develop a mechanism that can identify the donors in real time so in the future he cannot be accused of taking money from foreign lobbies.

Imran needs to give the money trail of the source for PTI’s funding, and should come clean. After all, he is the only self-proclaimed “Mr Clean” in the political horizon of the country. Refusing to submit a money trail and using delaying tactics will tarnish this self-created image, even within the ranks of PTI supporters. His party prides itself on “saaf chali, shafaf chali” (runs on transparency); maybe it is time to prove this is actually true.

Imad Zafar

Imad Zafar

The writer is a columnist and writes for various English and Urdu publications. He tweets at @rjimad (twitter.com/rjimad)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Mohammad Talha

    This story is based on some notorious characters like Hanif Abbasi and a dissident like Akbar S Babar. Hence the entire validity and authenticity of the story is questionable.Recommend

  • Tahir

    This is ridiculous writing. Indur Dosanjh is married to a Pakistani lady, shall we doubt that his wife is no more Pakistani and he can give funds to PTI when instructed by his Pakistani wife?
    He writes “After all, he is the only self-proclaimed “Mr Clean” in the political horizon of the country”…Two problems here with argument here: Imran is considered Mr Clean by honest Pakistanis for many right reasons including his cricketing career and SKMH…he is not self proclaimed Mr Clean…And secondly, which Pakistani political leader does not claim to be Mr Clean?
    And lastly, as this article is factually inaccurate, let me tell you Nawaz Sharif was disqualified on non disclosure of assets i.e an account he got based on aqama and not due to failure to presenting money trail.Recommend

  • Fahad Yousuf

    yes,only because it is against your mr. clean? From your pic, you seems to be much elder than me. If this is true, than u must have the knowledge of his corruptions, drug-addiction and dictatorship during his cricket days. Also, everyone knows what this powerful cricket mafia have done with the likes of Qasim Umar, Waqar Younus, Moin-ul-ateeq and the great AH Kardar?Recommend

  • Sami

    Imran Khan can never be wrong. He is the cleanest politician in Pakistan. He is the only hope. All other politicians are corrupt.
    If Imran Khan wants secrecy then there is nothing wrong in it. Only corrupt people should open their assets and their trial should be public.
    Clean people should be respected and their privacy must be respected by all costs.Recommend

  • M. Anwar Qureshi

    Its a biased writing and propaganda by pro-PMLNRecommend

  • Mudasar Hanif

    “any foreign government, multi-national or domestically incorporated public or private company, firm, trade or professional association shall be prohibited and the parties may accept contributions and donations only from individuals.”
    funds and donation made by individuals are not prohibited.
    So kindly stop maligning one and supporting PMLN’s agenda.Recommend

  • Lakhkar Khan

    Mohammad Talha – “His followers blindly follow him, as he is deemed to be the most ethical and just political leader in their eyes.”
    This is individuals like you what the columnist is talking about. You can follow Mr. Imran Niazi to the gates of hell but don’t try to drag the rest of Pakistan with you.Recommend

  • khuudaadad

    sorry i am not agree with that blog this is baised story IK is honest person its clear in our mind if he is not than there is no bodyRecommend

  • Paul Das

    IK has made millions from India for his ‘guest appearances’ in India. He too has lived on Indian money.Recommend

  • Hanif Mohammad

    Absolutely correct. This is a conspiracy to malign Imran Khan, the last and only pillar of Pakistan politics.Recommend

  • sullu2004

    All asking is ‘ladla ” should prove he is sadiq & ameen, and Mr. T you know he is not.Recommend

  • NATUREANDSCIENCE

    How Israel or India will benefit if PTI comes to power? Imran stopped NATO route and annoyed Western countries.He blames India for Mumbai Terrorism. HE is clean and no donations are coming from Israel or India.Every one knows who is the real friend of MODI.Recommend

  • Nas Khan

    If Imran has nothing to hide then everything in this investigation should be made public so that he is seen as living up to the standards he has set up for all others.this is his moment of truth.coming clean here will also vindicate SCP certification of “SADIQ & AMEEN” issued to him.Recommend

  • Rizwan

    Everything said about Imran Khan is un authentic and sponsored by pml n. Easiest and shoddiest of the responses from pti flanks.Recommend

  • Rizwan

    He may be clean but surrounded by the dirtiest and imran has been inducting them left right center. Is this the mark of a leader. Can u win a third rate crickket match and here u r talking about running a country of 220+ million peopleRecommend

  • An unbiased observer

    “His followers blindly follow him…”. Dear author, if there is one leader in this country who is not followed blindly but rather on his merits, it is Imran Khan. While all other major political parties draw majority of their votes on the basis of location, ethnicity and language (PML in Punjab, PPP in Sindh, ANP in NWFP previously, just to name a few,), IK might be the only leader who is supported nationwide. I was expecting an impartial article from a professional writer.Recommend

  • Fawad chaudhry

    Surprised to see such an ill informed blog in a reputable english paper. First the writer has no clue that PTI is only party that do public funding rest of the parties have no funding structures, issue in the case is funding by Pakistani Americans each penny is contributed by Pakistanis,Hanif Abbasi claimed American Pakistanis are not Pakistanis PTI do not agree with this notion. The accounts were submitted to EC and audited and certificate was issued as per law.Now after five years a disgruntled fellow applied for re-examining of the accounts, as a principle we oppose this move reason is once accounts are audited it becomes past and closed transaction if we allow people to challenge audited accounts at their will political parties account department will be left with no other job but to appear in EC everyday to reply frivolous objections. Audited accounts are a public document so their is no question of secrecy arises. Gentleman is advised to come to PTI office and he is more then welcome to inspect all the funding details. Fawad ChaudhryRecommend

  • Inam Rasool

    Imran Khan is the honest and brave leader and is last hope for betterment of Pakistan These tactics by opponents will not fruitfulRecommend

  • Israr Khan

    Go and read the case the verdicts in this case please IHC said “do not make them public” ecp did not listen they not only made them public but also leaked the records to other party the akbar s babar now u tell me if a party does not follow law and goes against the order of the court what should happen to them? contempt of court right ?
    Recommend

  • Safar Uddin

    so Mr. khan is funded by Israel and India for what? At the same time these species Hanif Abbasi and co. Call him Taliban khan, etc.
    How can he be representing these all at the same time?
    For a Pakistani they have to choose between Zardari, Nawaz fazlu Altaf or khan.
    InshaAllah Pakistan will get rid of 70 years cancerous garbage.Recommend

  • Shakir Lakhani

    Nothing will happen, because “laadla” is being supported by “those who cannot be named or blamed”. He can submit a forged NOC to the apex court, it is regularized. He has an offshore company, he had an illegitimate child, he sacked his own election commissioner when rigging was pointed out in party elections, he has done his best to destabilize an elected government and thus causing harm to the country, yet he is a “clean” politician. Those who are the real rulers of the country want him to be the next prime minister, and so he will always be able to get away with everything.Recommend

  • Baagar

    IK is human and humans are fallible. Don’t try to carve angels out of them.Recommend

  • Muhammad nawaz Nawaz

    All political parties except PTI has ruled this country. Now let PTI to rule. It is the last hope. In case of failure, the nation should get ready for a bloodiest revolution. These are my words.Recommend

  • Mohnis Tariq

    The author should also call for PML N and PPP to provide their money trail for their fund raising since the last 40 years! Oh wait, they don’t even raise any public money, they steal it from us. Terrible propaganda, biased. Should be a shame this guy gets to publish his work in this newspaper. Recommend

  • Shakir Lakhani

    “once accounts are audited it becomes past and closed transaction if we allow people to challenge audited accounts at their will political parties account department will be left with no other job but to appear in EC everyday to reply frivolous objections”. Audited accounts can be wrong, FBR is allowed to reopen settled income tax cases of businessmen. Also, what’s wrong in appearing before ECP? At least it will prepare you to appear before NAB when your time comes for accountability.Recommend

  • Shakir Lakhani

    NS was disqualified because he did not take salary from his son’s firm. Even though he may be corrupt (and the future may well prove IK is also corrupt), the grounds for disqualifying NS were frivolous.Recommend

  • Afee

    Only the low level of intellect seems to converge with amoral thinking for this kind of parallels. There is man who while holding public office amassed billions of dollars abroad for which he has no legitimate source to mention, is being accused of plundering public money on the other hand, there is this other man, being accused of bringing a few dollars to fund his political campaign in the country from abroad. Let us assume even if PTI has collected funds from abroad, even from India, what moral and ethical grounds it is similar to laundering, public money overseas. The people who draw parallels in two cases are either blind with animosity or in extreme need of mental treatment. For God’s sake, have some ethics and morals, there is an obvious thief found with stolen property which he can not explain and you are saying to the accuser “look you are wearing a cap that you don’t have a receipt of purchase for,” so you and the thief are equal. Are you serious ?Recommend

  • Jonaid Rizwan

    So Lo and Behold, IK is not clean. This means we should support the cleanest of ’em all MNS. Thank you Mr Zafar for clearing this for ignorant mortals like us. Wow.Recommend

  • Parvez

    You say ” Nawaz Sharif was disqualified because he did not take salary from his sons firm “……..that is a blatant distortion of the truth and you being an intelligent person knows this…..or at least should know it.Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    Imran Khan is a security risk regardless of whether he is honest or not, his family lives in england and a woman is not safe in his company. It is important that those who are financing his campaign from foreign countries are transparnt to the electorates.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Najeeb Khan

    He is 66 now.How women are not safe from him?Is he iron man 3?Recommend

  • Patwari

    The salary was 10,000 UAE dirhams per month!
    It was on the books of the company. Showing the
    Darbari from Jati Umra as an employee.
    With a legal, freshly churned out, iqama to boot.
    The salary was laundered, going straight to whichever
    account in Lichtenstein? Macau? Channel Islands?
    Outer Hebrides? Singapore?Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    Donald Trump is in seventies and active in women’s company: Imran Khan is known for tweeting unworthy proposals and did not even spare his supposedly Murshad divorcee.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Najeeb Khan

    He has married her. When he was young . giirls were after him.But after he entered into politics ,he has no scandal.Why he would tweet when physically the girls are following him?Recommend