Despite JUI-F’s unsuccessful march and Nawaz Sharif’s departure, PTI finds itself little relief having to face yet another problem: the foreign funding case. The case filed by dissident Akbar S. Babar has been pending with the Election Commission of Pakistan since the past five years. The ECP will now hear the case on a regular basis and a verdict is expected before the retirement of the chief election commissioner next month.
The opposition parties have also used the case as a weapon against the PTI. The ruling party would assume that the opposition would be calm after the Azadi March flopped and Nawaz Sharif dashed abroad. However, the opposition submitted an application that the foreign funding case should be winded up on urgent basis. Now the PTI want cases to be heard simultaneously against the PML-N and PPP as well.
The Election Act forbids foreign funding to a political party, even if they are from Pakistani origin. Such a party is termed a ‘foreign-aided political party’. This is used for parties considered to be working against the interests of the state with support from abroad. PTI has dispelled the impression that it is worried about the case. Prime Minister Imran Khan has assured that the party’s accounts are audited.
Even in a worst case scenario, it is highly unlikely that a mainstream party could be banned and the prime minister would be unseated. There are several legal loopholes which the party could use evade such an unfavorable verdict.
However, one can’t help but wonder, if PTI has no skeletons in the closet, then why has the party filed applications in the ECP to keep the proceedings secret. The case has taken too long and the proceedings have been too slow. The ECP has maintained that a scrutiny committee is handling the case. PTI must now convince both the judge and its voters that it has nothing to hide.
An unfavourable decision will have serious political repercussions. The collapse of the PTI government could create chaos and anarchy in the country. No one is above the law and the PTI should face the foreign funding case. The party must prove that the allegations are baseless. The government has been advocating for accountability in the country and change must begin from home.