ISLAMABAD: Unhappy over the constant defiance of its orders by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has directed the party to submit the financial documents and details of the party’s accounts by July 10 or be ready to face legal consequences.
The order was passed by a four-member bench of the ECP headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) retired Justice Sardar Mohammad Raza during the hearing of the famous foreign funding case here on Thursday.
In another development, a former general secretary of the PTI’s Swabi chapter Yusuf Ali challenged the recently held intra-party elections and prayed to the ECP to declare these elections null and void.
During the hearing of the foreign funding case, PTI’s junior lawyer Shahid Gondal again made a request for adjournment on the grounds that similar cases were pending before the Supreme Court and the Islamabad High Court (IHC).
The CEC, however, stated that there was no restraining order from the Supreme Court or the IHC to suspend proceedings in the ECP. He said the case was in litigation for long and the PTI must submit its financial records sought through repeated orders.
Syed Ahmed Hasan, the petitioner’s counsel, argued that the PTI had made it a pattern to request delays and adjournments on one lame excuse or another. He requested the ECP to take notice of the PTI’s delaying tactics.
Rejecting the repeated requests of the PTI lawyer to adjourn hearing to the middle of August, the CEC ordered that the case would be heard on July 10.
“Submit the documents, otherwise the law will take its own course,” the CEC told the PTI lawyer.
Talking to the media outside the ECP, the petitioner and founding member of the PTI Akbar Babar regretted that he had filed the case some two and half years ago, but the PTI had been using delaying tactics and running away from accountability.
“If Imran Khan is not corrupt and has nothing to hide, why he is running away from accountability and justice?” he asked.
In an apparent reference to the recent joining of the PTI by the politicians from other parties, Mr Babar said the “political trash” being collected by Imran Khan could never bring about change in the country. He alleged that the PTI tickets were auctioned to the highest bidder in the last general elections and tickets were being awarded on the basis of donations to the party and Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust. He alleged that the party had awarded tickets to the senators after receiving huge money.
Mr Babar termed the recent intra-party elections as “totally fraudulent” and illegal. He said over 90 per cent PTI members boycotted the elections on the call of the PTI Founders Group sending a clear message to Imran Khan about his falling credibility.
When contacted, PTI’s Shafqat Mehmood said the party believed that if any matter was referred to the Supreme Court, then no subordinate institution could take up the issue before a final decision by the apex court.
Commenting on Thursday’s proceedings in which the CEC had asked the party to submit the details by July 10, the PTI leader said that the party’s main lawyer was on leave and it had sent its junior lawyer to the ECP to seek adjournment. However, he expressed the hope that the party’s lawyer would take up the matter with the ECP in the next hearing.
The PTI officially disowned Akbar Babar as the founding member of the party and says that he had been sacked some seven years back.
But, the ECP in its order on May 8 had declared Mr Babar as a legitimate member of the PTI.
After the hearing of the foreign funding case last month, the PTI had stated that the federal government, and not the ECP or the Supreme Court, was authorised to hold investigations into the foreign funding case against the party.
PTI spokesman Fawad Chaudhry had stated that the party was ready to submit the details of its accounts to the ministry of interior as per the laws of the country, but it would not provide such details to the ECP. He said that under the Representation of People Act, 1976, and the Political Parties Order, only the federal government had the powers to probe the party funds and impose a ban on a political party.
The PTI says that the party had received funds from the overseas Pakistanis and the American Pakistanis and they could not be considered foreigners.
Fawad Chaudhry, however, had stated that the party would produce all the documents to the Supreme Court which was also hearing a similar case.
Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2017