After ECP report, Shahbaz said, ‘No thief can be the Prime Minister’

Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif (left) and Prime Minister Imran Khan. — afp/twitter/file

Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif said on Friday that no thief can be the prime minister under Pakistan’s constitution and its laws.

In a statement shared by the PML-N on Twitter, days after a report by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the PML-N chairman said, “Imran Niazi, who has been proven to be a thief and a liar under the law, should resign.” The scrutiny committee said that PTI hid funds worth lakhs of rupees.

Shahbaz said that the Constitution, the law and the political code of conduct dictate that PM Imran Khan should step down. “The ECP’s inquiry committee has said that Imran Niazi is neither honest nor trustworthy,” he said.

‘If the law can be applied to Nawaz then why not to Imran?’

“A person who hides facts, steals and lies, cannot hold a constitutional, government or political office,” the PML-N president said.

It is pertinent to mention here that after the report surfaced in the media earlier this week, PTI claimed that it was clear and that it has not hidden anything from the ECP.

“If the law can be applied to a popular leader like Nawaz Sharif, why not Imran Niazi,” Shahbaz asked in his statement today.

“If Panama Papers JIT can be formed against Nawaz Sharif, and monitored by honorable judges of Supreme Court, why can’t it be done for Imran Niazi?” He inquired further.

‘Country without PM’

They said The country is operating “without a (real) prime minister”, and is being governed under a “constitutional and legal void”.

,[Pakistan has] No leader of parliament,” he added: “Under the law and the constitution, Imran Niazi cannot decide on the affairs of the country.”

“After the ECP inquiry report, whatever decision is taken cannot be considered constitutional or legal,” Shahbaz said.

‘There should be daily action’

The PML-N president demanded that an investigation be launched against PM Imran Khan and that his case be heard on a daily basis – like the one against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

He said that equal treatment under the Constitution and the law is a fundamental principle of the laws of Pakistan and should be followed.

“The ECP’s inquiry committee has charged Imran Niazi and his party under the law,” he said.

‘IMF deal, mini budget to be reviewed’

The Leader of the Opposition also demanded a review of the deal with the International Monetary Fund and the Supplementary Finance Bill, which the opposition dubbed a “mini-budget”.

‘Those named in foreign funding case should resign’

He called for all those named in the ECP’s report to resign and “without delay” legal action against the four PTI employees as well as all others involved in accepting foreign funding for the party.

‘Will talk to the opposition’

Shahbaz said he would “talk to the opposition” about the “serious constitutional void” that the ECP’s findings have caused.

“All parties and activists who believe in the Constitution and the law have to play their part in bringing Pakistan out of this constitutional void,” he said.

‘Threat to Pakistan’

Shahbaz said further investigation is needed as to which other foreign entities donated to the party and the details of PTI’s international accounts should be brought to the fore.

“Those who accepted illegal money from non-state actors and companies are a threat to Pakistan’s nuclear power,” he said.

The Leader of the Opposition said that if such revelations had come to the fore in the western country, the Prime Minister would have resigned already.

Shahbaz said on page 92 of the report, “It is mentioned that since 2009-13, PTI hid 53 bank accounts”, while disclosing “only 12 bank accounts to the ECP”.

He said that from the information given by the State Bank of Pakistan to the ECP, it has been learned that PTI has a total of 65 accounts.

‘Shocking facts’

A day earlier, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz slammed the PTI-led government for receiving foreign funds and said that PM Imran Khan has to be accountable to the people for his “wrong deeds”.

Speaking during a press conference after the PML-N meeting in Lahore, Maryam said that PTI resorted to “mis-declaration” of funds “on the instructions of PM Imran Khan”.

Making a similar demand, Maryam said: “Just as a JIT (Joint Investigation Team) was constituted against former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, a similar JIT should be constituted to probe PTI.”

“All accounts owned by PTI should be publicly declared,” she said.

PM welcomes ECP report

However, on Wednesday, the day after the report came out, PM Imran Khan welcomed it and said that this process should not stop here and the accounts of more parties should be investigated.

“The more our accounts are scrutinized, the more factual clarity will emerge for the nation as to how PTI is the only political party which has a proper donor base based on proper political fundraising,” the Prime Minister said.

The prime minister said he was looking forward to seeing similar ECP probe reports on funding of two other major political parties – PPP and PML-N.

“This will allow the nation to see the difference between the proper [political] Fundraising and extortion of funds from crony capitalists and vested interests in return for favors at the cost of the country,” he said.

Report

The report of the inquiry committee exposes the contradictions in the details and actual data provided by PTI to the ECP.

According to data provided to the committee by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), PTI has 26 bank accounts.

The report said that from 2008 to 2013, PTI disclosed funds of Rs 1.33 billion to the ECP, while the actual amount in a report by SBP was Rs 1.64 billion.

It said that PTI failed to disclose the details of the three banks in the documents provided to the ECP.

It said that around 1,414 companies in Pakistan, 47 foreign companies and 119 potential companies provided funds to PTI.

The report said that PTI received $2.3448 million in funds from the US, but the investigative committee could not gain access to the party’s US bank accounts.

Contributors to these funds were 4,755 Pakistani, 41 non-Pakistani and 230 foreign companies.