Pressure and counter-pressure – Pakistan Observer

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As the PTI persists in its campaign to pressure the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), ostensibly on flimsy excuses, the Federal Cabinet meeting in Islamabad on Thursday decided to send a statement against the party and its leaders to the Supreme Court of Pakistan based on a detailed ECP verdict in a foreign funding case.

He also ordered the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to open an investigation against the leaders of the party for the initiation of criminal charges against them for money laundering and misappropriation of charitable funds for political purposes.

Separately, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) on Thursday filed a petition with the Election Commission to disqualify PTI Chairman Imran Khan, arguing that he had failed to declare gifts received from the Toshakhana in his asset declaration and , therefore, should be disqualified under Article 62(1)(F) of the Constitution – the same provision under which former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was disqualified in 2017.

The PTI is surely feeling the heat of the circumstances visibly against it and the coming weeks will determine the level of threat to the party and its leadership and their consequent political future.

Imran Khan, citing his party’s victory in the recent by-elections, argued that the government was unable to fight his party politically and therefore was using the ECP to eliminate it for technical reasons.

Politically motivated statements by PTI leaders notwithstanding, the technical knockout remarks are an acknowledgment that there is a strong case against the party to take it to court with grave implications for its very survival.

However, at the same time, Imran Khan wondered what wrong he had done that people started talking about his disqualification, adding that fundraising from overseas Pakistanis could be seen as financing. foreign.

This appears to be a simplistic view of a grim scenario as no one is talking about funding by overseas Pakistanis but funds received from foreign nationals and entities and also embezzlement of funds received in the name of charity.

The party had claimed that those who shouted slogans at Masjid-e-Nabvi against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his delegation had committed no crime, but a Saudi court found them guilty of desecration and sentenced them to 10 years from prison.

On the face of it, it would be virtually impossible for the PTI to argue its case in the Supreme Court, as it was unable to do so in eight years when the case was heard by the Election Commission.

Instead of presenting facts and evidence in support of their claims, the PTI has relied entirely on repeated adjournments and a propaganda campaign that shows it has nothing substantial to back its case.

The findings against the party come from an institution and, in accordance with instructions from the Federal Cabinet, the FIA ​​would also launch an investigation against the leaders of the party for the initiation of criminal charges for money laundering and misuse of charitable funds to political purposes.

The FIA ​​investigation is also said to have input from the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and other relevant organizations and therefore elements/ Additional evidence may appear against the party in addition to that provided to the Electoral Commission during the PTI’s tenure.

The party is making unsubstantiated allegations against the electoral commission and the government, but in reality the coalition government deserves credit for not being quick to arrest party leaders or put their names on the list of output control (ECL).

This stands in stark contrast to what people witnessed during PTI rule when opposition leaders were arrested and put behind bars on mere guesswork and the government failed miserably to prove any wrongdoing against them. before the courts.

Either way, the case would be heard by the Supreme Court where the party as well as the government side would have ample opportunity to present evidence and arguments to consolidate their claims.

Regardless of the outcome of the whole move, there is no denying the fact that the country was heading in a dangerous direction due to the inability of both sides to engage in dialogue to settle differences.

The only way out is dialogue without preconditions, otherwise, besides the country, political parties could also suffer.

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