The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday expressed dissatisfaction over Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan's reply to a petition seeking his disqualification on charges of collecting party funds from "prohibited" sources.
Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) retired Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza ─ who was heading the ECP bench which took up the case ─ suggested that the defendants offer straightforward answers after hearing Khan's counsel Shahid Gondal's arguments.
Gondal submitted his objections to the petition submitted by Hashim Ali Bhutta, who the PTI believes is being backed by the PML-N, although Bhutta had filed the plea in a personal capacity.
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.
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.
"The petitioner Hashim Bhutta is the son of former PML-N MNA Naseer Bhutta," Gondal told the CEC.
"He [Bhutta] has filed the petition on the request of PML-N."
Gondal went on to insist that the petitioner and his family were ardent supporters of the ruling party: "Naseer Bhutta had issued statements in favour of the Sharif family during their Hudaibiya Papers case in the High Court."
"A direct request in the ECP against the disqualification of Imran Khan cannot be filed," he argued.
"The Election Commission should hear our objections before moving ahead," Gondal told the bench.
"You first need to decide whether you can even hold a hearing on this petition or not," Gondal retorted.
Responding to Khan's counsel, the CEC suggested that the defendants offer straightforward answers: "You are avoiding answering the real question by refusing to address this issue as well."
Postponing the hearing till July 12, the CEC expressed his dismay, saying, "We thought we would postpone this hearing indefinitely today."
Replying to the statement by retired justice Raza, Gondal said, "You should express less anger at us."
The CEC took stern notice of the comments made by the counsel, saying, "You have refrained from answering our questions for two and a half years, and now you are even subverting us."
Bani Gala money trail
PTI chief Imran Khan today also submitted to the Supreme Court additional documents relating to the money trail for the funds he used to purchase his Bani Gala property.
The documents also detail the funds transferred to one Rashid Ali Khan by Khan's former spouse, Jemimah Khan.
In June, Jemimah had announced in a tweet that she had "finally tracked down 15 year old bank statements" to substantiate Imran Khan's claims about his financial transactions in ongoing cases in the SC and the ECP.
"Finally tracked down 15 year old bank statements to prove Imran Khan's money trail/innocence in court. Now please go after the real crooks," the tweet read.
Petitions seeking the disqualification of Imran Khan and PTI leader Jahangir Tareen over the non-disclosure of assets, their ownership of offshore companies and for collecting party funds through 'prohibited sources' are currently being heard in both the SC and the ECP.
With reference to the cases, Khan has repeatedly claimed that he has done nothing wrong and that any money he brought into the country was brought through legal means.
The response by the defendant stated that Jemimah had transferred Rs48.4 million to Imran Khan through Rashid Ali Khan.
"Foreign income is not taxed nor does it have to be declared in Pakistan," read Khan's response to the apex court.
The PTI chief also said that he submitted the advance payment for Bani Gala himself and then transferred the money from Jemimah on loan to Pakistan.
He added that the amount was declared in the 2002 nomination papers.
"All the information regarding the money sent by Jemimah has been declared."
The defendants denied all the charges leveled against Imran Khan.
In response to the statement, the bench reminded the counsel that the court reserves all right to summon any record.
A document trailing the flow of funds from Jemimah to Imran Khan was also submitted to the court.