ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will on Thursday (today) resume the hearing of a petition seeking the disqualification of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan on charges of collecting party funds from “prohibited” sources.
In May, an ECP bench headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) retired Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza had turned down Mr Khan’s request to adjourn the petition indefinitely on the grounds that a similar petition had been taken up by the Supreme Court.
The petitioner, Hashim Ali Bhutta, had filed the plea in a personal capacity, but the PTI believes he is being backed by the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
Under the country’s laws, a political party cannot receive funds from foreign individuals or organisations. All party chiefs are required to submit a declaration to the ECP in this regard while submitting details of their party assets.
Mr Bhutta had attached some documents to his petition which support his claims that the PTI had received around $3 million through various sources in Texas and California.
Mr Bhutta’s counsel, Sharafat Chaudhry, had argued that Mr Khan had submitted a certificate of 2010 to 2015 stating that the PTI had not collected funds through any “prohibited means”, whereas his client had evidence which proved otherwise.
Representing the PTI chief, Advocate Shahid Gondal informed the commission that a similar petition had been filed in the Supreme Court by former PML-N MNA Hanif Abbasi. He requested the ECP to adjourn the hearing indefinitely as the petitions were identical in nature.
Expressing annoyance over the PTI chief’s failure to submit a reply, Justice Raza said if the party had submitted its reply to the apex court it could do the same before the ECP. The CEC offered to consider the PTI lawyers’ request for a long adjournment only after receiving a response from the PTI chairman.
Published in Dawn, July 6th, 2017