FIA constitutes team to oversee PTI funding probe

ISLAMABAD: The Fed­eral Investigation Agency (FIA) on Friday constituted a five-member team to supervise the inquiry teams of FIA’s respective zones probing into the matter pertaining to the Elec­tion Commission of Pakistan (ECP) order in Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) ‘prohibited’ funding case.

Headed by FIA director Mohammad Athar Waheed, the FIA monitoring team would be responsible for coordination with and guidance to the respective inquiry teams in each zone, according to a notification issued by FIA’s economic crime wing director.

The FIA team was notified just a few days after a three-member ECP bench in a unanimous verdict ruled that the PTI received prohibited funding in the case pending since 2014.

As per the FIA notification, the probe is being conducted under Section 6 of Political Parties Order, 2002. FIA’s additional director Khalid Anees, deputy director Khawaja Hammad, Chaudhary Ijaz Ahmed and assistant director Ijaz Ahmed Sheikh will be members of the team that has been tasked with supervising the ongoing enquiries into PTI’s funding case.

Court seeks FIA response to harassment allegation by party’s staff

PTI staff plea against ‘harassment’

Also on Friday, the lower staff of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) filed a petition before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) against an inquiry initiated by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) over the alleged collection of foreign funding.

The PTI’s financial board in 2011 authorised four employees of the party’s central secretariat —telephone operator (Tahir Iqbal), computer operator (Mohammad Nauman Afzal), accountant (Mohammad Arshad) and PTI’s office helper (Mohammad Rafiq) — were allowed to receive funds from within Pakistan and abroad in their personal accounts, according to the Election Commission of Pakistan.

In their petition, Iqbal, Arshad and Rafiq moved through their counsel Shah Khawar before acting chief justice of the IHC Justice Aamer Farooq, the PTI staff alleged that FIA inspector Rehana Kausar started harassing them after Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah at a press conference announced registration of case against the employees.

Read: 7 years — a timeline of the convoluted saga that is the PTI’s prohibited funding case

While terming it mala fide on part of the investigation agency, the counsel argued that notices were issued to his clients at midnight after the minister’s presser and requested the court to set aside the notices.

Justice Farooq, however, issued notice to the FIA and sought reply till August 10.

According to PTI’s founding member Akbar S. Babar, who was the complainant in the foreign funding case, a sum of Rs11.104 million was deposited in the employees’ accounts, which was beyond their known sources of income. In 2016 and 2017, Mr Babar had written to the authorities for initiating an inquiry into the matter but the previous PML-N government didn’t pay heed to it then.

As for the account details, the PTI’s telephone operator received Rs4.715 million in his account when his monthly income was Rs28,000. PTI’s accountant received Rs840,000 and Rs959,000 in two accounts he operated while he was earning Rs42,000 a month. The office helper, Rafiq, received a sum of Rs4.725m whereas his monthly income was Rs23,000. In another account, Rs2.379 million was deposited.

Published in Dawn, August 6th, 2022