Pakistan’s election agency rules ex-PM Khan’s party received illegal funds

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ISLAMABAD, Aug 2 (Reuters) – Pakistan’s Election Commission ruled on Tuesday that former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party had received illegal funds, his party spokesman and media said, which could lead to banning the former cricket star and party in politics.

In a case that has dragged on for years, Khan’s party has been accused of receiving funds from abroad, which is illegal in Pakistan.

Khan was not immediately available for comment, but a spokesman for his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party denied any wrongdoing.

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“We will challenge this decision,” spokesman Fawad Chaudhry told reporters outside the office of the Election Commission of Pakistan in the capital, Islamabad.

Chaudhry said the funds in question came from overseas Pakistanis, which is not illegal.

Khan served as prime minister from 2018 until April this year, when he was forced to resign after losing a vote of confidence which he said was the result of a US conspiracy. The United States denied this.

Since then, Khan has rallied his supporters to press his demand for a new election. The new Prime Minister, Shehbaz Sharif, rejected this request.

An election commission spokesman was not immediately available for comment, but media reported that a three-member tribunal found the party had secured funding from 34 foreigners or foreign companies.

The court said the party submitted a false affidavit regarding his bank accounts and determined that the party was hiding 13 bank accounts that he should have disclosed.

The commission asked the party to provide an explanation as to why its funds should not be seized, media reported.

The person who filed the lawsuit against the party, party founder Khan and former close associate Akbar S. Babar, welcomed the decision.

“All charges against Imran Khan have been proven,” Babar, who has fallen out with Khan, told reporters, adding that Khan should retire from the party.

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Reporting by Asif Shahzad; Editing by Kim Coghill, Robert Birsel

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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