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ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has said that the government, and not the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) or the Supreme Court (SC), is authorised to hold investigations into the foreign funding case against the party.

Talking to Dawn after the hearing of the case by the ECP on Tuesday, PTI spokesman Fawad Chaudhry said the party was ready to submit the details of its accounts to the interior ministry in accordance with the laws, but would not provide them to the ECP.

He said that under the Representation of the People Act 1976 and the Political Parties Order, only the federal government had the power to investigate the party funds.

Party again refuses to submit details of accounts to ECP

He responded in the affirmative when asked if the PTI would submit the details of its accounts to the ministry headed by Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.

The PTI leader said the party had received funds from American and other overseas Pakistanis and they could not be considered foreigners. He said the government wanted to use the shoulders of the ECP and the judges to get the overseas Pakistanis declared as “foreigners” and the PTI would not allow the PML-N to do so. Moreover, he said, the accounts of the PTI before the 2013 general elections were in question. He said the ECP was asking for the details which the party had already submitted before it at the time of the elections and the commission had put them on its website after an audit.

Replying to a question, Mr Chaudhry said the party would submit all the documents to the Supreme Court, which was also hearing a similar case.

Earlier in the day, the PTI again refused to submit the details of its accounts and funds to the ECP, telling the bench headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) retired Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza that it had challenged the commission’s decision before the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

During the hearing of the foreign funding case, the PTI’s lawyer informed the ECP that party chairman Imran Khan had filed a writ petition in the IHC, seeking suspension of the scrutiny of its accounts by the commission, and, therefore, he could not submit the financial record.

The CEC repeatedly asked the lawyer why the party was refusing to comply with the ECP’s orders in the absence of any restraining order by the IHC and adjourned the hearing till Wednesday, rejecting the PTI’s plea to adjourn the case till next week.

The PTI lawyer informed the ECP that the IHC would hear the party’s fresh petition on Wednesday and the Supreme Court was also holding daily hearings in a similar case.

The party had filed a similar writ petition in the IHC in November 2015 after the ECP passed a detailed order exercising its jurisdiction over the case the previous month.

While the IHC did not issue a stay order, the PTI used the pendency of its petition in the IHC as an excuse to refuse to present the financial documents sought by the ECP for over a year.

In February this year, a division bench of the IHC remanded the case back to the ECP with the directives to review its jurisdiction and the locus standi of the petitioner.

The ECP completed its review process and passed a short order on May 8, announcing its complete jurisdiction over the case. In its order, the commission had asked the PTI to produce the financial records as a ‘last chance’ by May 30.

The case was filed by PTI’s former vice president Akbar S. Babar in November 2014.

Talking to the media outside the ECP, the petitioner alleged that by filing yet another petition in the high court, Mr Khan had proved that he and the PTI were “absconders” and all his allegations of corruption were correct because there was no other plausible reason for running away from accountability.

Mr Babar, once a close confidant of Mr Khan, said the PTI was now firmly in control of people with vested interests. He claimed that the PTI workers would reject the planned ‘sham party elections’.

Published in Dawn, May 31st, 2017