ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday gave the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) another chance to produce its financial records in the foreign funding case.

Earlier: ECP angry at PTI ‘delaying tactics’ in foreign funding case

Chief Election Commissioner Justice Sardar Mohammad Raza, while heading a five-member bench hearing the case, asked the PTI to comply with its orders by the next date of hearing on May 30.

This was the third time the PTI did not produce the records in the case despite written orders of the ECP.

On Dec 1 last year, the ECP had also ordered the PTI to submit its accounts or face ‘legal consequences’. Instead of complying with the orders, the party accused the ECP of ‘political bias’ which led to a contempt application against Imran Khan filed by petitioner Akbar S. Babar.

On May 8 this year, the ECP once again declared its jurisdiction over the case after a fresh review on the orders of the Islamabad High Court and directed the PTI to produce the records by May 17, repeating its threat to act if it was not done.

Despite repeated commitments made to the ECP, the PTI on Wednesday sought adjournment on the plea that it had not received the detailed ECP order of May 8, whereby the commission decided its jurisdiction over the case.

The petitioner personally pleaded with the five-member bench of the ECP to note the deliberate refusal of the defendant to comply with its orders. He urged the commission to exercise its constitutional powers and order the State Bank of Pakistan to produce the bank statements and other records demanded by the petitioner. He said the records were critical to the merits of the case.

The case has been pending since November 2014 when it was first filed by PTI’s founding member and former central vice president Akbar S. Babar alleging corruption and gross irregularities in collection of donations.

On the contempt application filed by Akbar S. Babar against Imran Khan accusing him of casting aspersions on a constitutional body, the PTI chief once again failed to honour his promise made through his lawyer on May 8 to file a response by Wednesday.

Instead the PTI engaged a new lawyer who sought more time to file a response. The CEC gave Mr Khan one last chance to submit his reply by the next hearing otherwise it would take cognizance in accordance with contempt laws.

Talking to reporters, Mr Babar claimed that millions of rupees had been illegally transferred through ‘Hundi’ to front accounts of PTI employees, including a telephone operator, receptionist, computer operator and an accountant. He said Mr Khan should voluntarily disclose if any funds were received from politicians of a neighbouring country.

“This is a matter of national security that continues to be ignored despite requests to the federal interior minister for a probe by the FIA”, he remarked.

He said Mr Khan had repeatedly cast aspersions on the character of members of the Election Commission while he himself had appointed a person who was accused by PTI workers of vote buying during the intra-party elections in 2013. He demanded that the report of the inquiry committee headed by retired Gen Ali Kuli Khan should be made public that validated the allegations against Azam Swati who had now been made the new PTI CEC. He urged PTI workers to boycott the ‘sham’ intra-party elections.

Mr Babar lamented that Mr Khan repeatedly condemned nepotism and yet he appointed his erstwhile friend a director of the Bank of Khyber whose bank account was used to purchase Mr Khan’s Banigala property.

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2017