Pakistan’s election commission has ruled that former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party received illegal funds, his party spokesman and media said, which could result in the former cricket star and the party being banned from politics.
In a case that has dragged on for years, Khan’s party on Tuesday was accused of receiving funds from abroad, which is illegal in Pakistan.
A three-member commission tribunal found that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party got funding from 34 foreigners or foreign companies.
The tribunal said the party had submitted a fake affidavit about its bank accounts, and it had determined that the party hid 13 bank accounts that it should have declared.
Pakistan’s Dawn news website reported that a show-cause notice has been issued to the PTI to explain why the commission should not seize the funds it received.
The election commission ruled the party received funds from businessman Arif Naqvi and 34 foreign nationals, said the report, adding that it allegedly kept 13 bank accounts hidden.
Khan was not immediately available for comment but a PTI spokesman denied wrongdoing.
“We will challenge this ruling,” the spokesman, Fawad Chaudhry, told reporters outside the Election Commission of Pakistan office in the capital, Islamabad.
Chaudhry said the funds in question were received from overseas Pakistanis, which is not illegal.
Khan was prime minister from 2018 until April of this year when he was forced to step down after losing a confidence vote that he said was the result of a conspiracy by the United States, which denies the charge.
Since then, Khan has been rallying his supporters to press his demand for a new election. The new prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif, has rejected that demand.
The person who filed the complaint against the PTI, party founder and former close associate Akbar S Babar, hailed the commission’s ruling.
“All the accusations against Imran Khan have been proven,” Babar, who fell out with Khan, told reporters, adding that Khan should step down from the party.