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PTI’s failing accountability drive

Prime Minister Imran Khan and his party came into power riding on the horse of the anti-corruption drive. Their motto to bring back the looted money from the ‘corrupt’ elites of the country had gotten them the popularity and ‘seats’ but the drive had not managed to bring back any money. After almost four years in power, the premier has now himself admitted failure on the accountability front. Talking to a private news channel, PM Imran said that despite ‘the evidence’ against the PML-N leadership, the incumbent government had failed to frame charges against them. “There is solid evidence against [PML-N President] Shehbaz Sharif. Can anyone deny that Shehbaz did not commit corruption?” PM Imran maintained.

But ironically his remarks came just a few days after the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) scrutiny committee report stated that the ruling party had hid funds worth Rs310 million obtained through overseas Pakistanis. The foreign funding case against the PTI was initiated by disgruntled PTI founding member Akbar S Babar in November 2014. It took over five years for the committee to file the report amid the party members hesitance to provide receipts and details of funding. The delay in the process has not gone unnoticed. Add to this the PTI counsel’s argument, during the recent hearing of the case at the electoral watchdog’s office, to keep the report confidential until the party submits comments on it. This has only given the opposition ammo to launch attacks on the incumbent government. Party leaders of both the PML-N and the PPP have also called for the PM to step down over the findings of the report.

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And why wouldn’t they? The PTI had launched a witch-hunt led by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on the leaders of the opposition parties. But today, not only has the anti-graft drive borne no fruit but the ruling party’s lackluster performance has only lost the fanbase it once enjoyed. Facing defeat in the first phase of the local government elections in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa from the ring-wing party, JUI-F, should not be taken lightly. With the upcoming general elections next year, the ruling party must work towards fixing its performance and clearing its name in the foreign funding case, as the federal ministers have claimed that the report ‘miscounted’ the bank statements, than focus on “the escaping corrupt elites”.

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