LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: The PTI Friday accepted that it had received funds from Pakistani businessman Arif Naqvi’s Wootton Cricket Ltd — a Cayman Islands-incorporated company — after a foreign publication reported that its donations were of foreign origin.
“All the records [related to those transactions] are available,” PTI Central Deputy Secretary Information Farrukh Habib told a press conference after a Financial Times report revealed that Naqvi “transferred three instalments directly to the PTI in 2013 adding up to a total of $2.12m” — which were of foreign origin.
The PTI leader said that there was no case against Naqvi or his Abraaj Group in 2012 and that the businessman had given £20 million to PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and his brother, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, in “bribes”.
“Naqvi also hosted a dinner for Nawaz, they should respond to these claims as well,” he demanded.
The party has been embroiled in a foreign funding case since 2014, filed by PTI’s founding member Akbar S Babar. An Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) scrutiny committee later in 2022 revealed that the PTI hid funds worth millions of rupees from the ECP — but the party rejects these claims.
In his press conference today, Habib said that a “media trial” is conducted against the party every now and then related to foreign funding.
“The case against PTI is not related to foreign funding, rather it is of prohibited funding […] foreign funds are used for working against an incumbent government; that’s not the case here,” he said.
Habib said that his party laid the foundation of funding in Pakistan. He added that overseas Pakistanis send $32 billion annually to the country and they also donate them to PTI.
He reiterated that the verdicts of PTI, PPP, and PML-N’s foreign funding cases be issued on the same date as he demanded that the ECP demonstrate responsible behaviour.
The PTI leader claimed that the PML-N hid 112 accounts from the election commission, PPP hid 11 and did not give records of Rs3.6 million to the ECP.
Before Habib, PTI PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry defended Naqvi, who is facing corruption charges in the United States.
The PTI’s senior vice president asked local media not to portray “our people as villains”, as when a Pakistani Muslim’s influence crosses a certain benchmark, it is not welcomed by the “Israeli lobby”.
“Arif Naqvi’s Abraaj Group became a $14 billion company. And when any Muslim and especially a Pakistani Muslim’s influence crosses a certain limit, then it isn’t welcomed by the Israeli lobby”.
“Why should we become part of a propaganda campaign when we know it’s Israel-backed?”
In a separate statement, Fawad said that the PTI demands that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) should announce the verdict in all three parties’ — PTI, PML-N, and PPP — funding case be announced at the same time.
“The PTI has submitted details of more than 40,000 donors to the ECP. Overseas Pakistanis, just like they support Pakistan, also support PTI,” he said.
Talking to the media outside the ECP office in Islamabad, senior PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that the government has requested the election commission to reveal the details of funds that Khan’s party received so people can see it for themselves.
“Yesterday, an institution like the Financial Times reported that Arif Naqvi held a match in London. Arif Naqvi told the participants that their participation money would go to a charity.”
The FT reported that the guests — who participated in Naqvi’s “Wootton T20 Cup” — were asked to pay between £2,000 and £2,500 each.
The former prime minister alleged that Naqvi donated Rs55 million into the bank accounts of PTI. “…but PTI provided no trace of those transactions.”
He further alleged that Khan’s party received funds from companies in the United States that are established in California and Texas. “If Khan’s hands are clean, he should provide details [of transactions] since day one.”