ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) lawyer told the Supreme Court on Thursday that the Political Parties Order 2002 (PPO 2002) provided a proper forum for imposing penalties over the subject of foreign funding.

He maintained that Articles 2, 3 and 6 of the PPO 2002 dealt with the subject of foreign funding differently from what the petitioner was suggesting, adding that only the federal government — and not the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) — could order action in this regard.

Advocate Anwar Mansoor also told the court his party planned to challenge the ECP’s May 8 order, where the commission decided it did have the jurisdiction to hear the foreign funding case against the PTI.

Saying that he had not been able to consult his client, PTI chief Imran Khan, the counsel asked for more time to discuss the court’s proposal to appoint the ECP as a commission to probe the allegations of foreign funding.

Court grants PTI lawyer more time to consult Imran on proposal to appoint ECP as investigating body

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court had asked the PTI to explain if the party was ready for the appointment of the ECP as a commission to probe the claims that the PTI received foreign funding.

His request was apparently granted, as the court said it would resume hearing Hanif Abbasi’s petition seeking the disqualification of Imran Khan and Jahangir Tareen on May 23.

“I have objected before the ECP by questioning whether an individual can approach the commission by moving an application on the party funding issue, when the ECP is neither a court nor a tribunal,” Advocate Mansoor argued.

The relevant laws do not provide the right to an individual to seek remedy against a political party from the ECP, the counsel emphasised.

He then referred to Article 6(3) of the PPO 2002, stressing that it should be read with Article 17(2) of the Constitution — a provision that authorises the federal government to declare a particular political party to be operating in a manner prejudicial to the sovereignty or integrity of Pakistan.

In such cases, the federal government can refer the matter to the Supreme Court to determine whether the political party is foreign-funded.

Thus, the matter was in the domain of the federal government and the ECP cannot decide such matters unilaterally.

Before sending any reference against a political party in this regard, the federal government had to first make a determination and then show-cause the political party in question, the counsel argued, adding that such a determination could not be made by ECP.

The counsel emphasised that Article 6(3) of PPO prohibited contributions to the party from any foreign government, multinational or domestically incorporated public or private company.

This meant, the counsel argued, that the political party could not accept donations from a multinational company (MNC) if it was registered or incorporated in the country, but there was no bar on MNCs incorporated outside the country.

At this, Justice Umar Ata Bandial reminded the counsel that most MNCs had offices in Pakistan, though they were incorporated in foreign countries.

“Like Pepsi Cola, which has offices in Pakistan as well as abroad,” the court observed.

Explaining further, the counsel argued that his interpretation of Article 6(3) of PPO was that the provision related to money received in Pakistan, except for money received from a foreign government.

Referring to Article 2(c) of PPO, which prohibited financial aid from a foreign government or any funds from foreign nationals, the counsel explained, that the penalties and jurisdiction provided in the provision were distinct and did not overlap.

Published in Dawn, May 12th, 2017