ISLAMABAD: Unhappy with the constant defiance of its orders, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday gave the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) yet another final opportunity to submit financial documents and details of funds received from abroad, as well as the party’s accounts, by Oct 11.

The bench, headed by Chief Election Commissioner retired Justice Sardar Mohammad Raza made it clear during the hearing of the PTI foreign funding case that this was the last and final chance, failing which the commission would go ahead with ex-parte proceedings.

Such warnings have been given by the ECP in the past as well, but it has continued to give more chances to the PTI. At the previous hearing as well, the PTI was told to submit documents or face the consequences.

PTI counsel Saqlain Haider told the bench he was awaiting a copy of the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) order, but was told by the ECP that it had already received a copy of the order. “We will not be giving you any notice from tomorrow and will pass an order from our office,” the CEC said.

CEC threatens to proceed ex-parte in foreign funding case if party does not submit required documents

When the PTI counsel asked the ECP not to share the details with any third party, the CEC said the question would only arise once the documents were submitted.

“You have turned the ECP into a wrestling ring. One advocate appears before us one day, and the next day a new counsel appears. You question the ECP’s jurisdiction to hear the case while also appearing before the IHC,” he remarked.

He said the PTI’s stance had not become clear in three years, warning that an ex-parte judgement would be handed down if the required statements were not filed.

When Saqlain Haider said these will be submitted within two weeks, the CEC recalled that PTI counsel Faisal Chaudhry had promised to submit the same on Sept 11.

In the absence of his counsel, who was arguing the same case before the IHC, petitioner Akbar S. Babar personally pleaded before the ECP on Thursday.

Reading out excerpts of the PTI petition filed before the ECP on Aug 16, in which PTI had claimed it had submitted all records to the Supreme Court, Mr Babar contended that the documents submitted to the apex court were incomplete and bogus and do not contain a single bank statement or any money trail.

He claimed that the documents do not contain details of funds collected from the UK or the money raised in the Middle East and remitted through hundi, as was already documented in the PTI Special Audit Report.

The IHC, which also took up PTI’s petition for hearing on Monday, declined a stay injunction against ECP scrutiny of its accounts and ordered PTI to comply with ECP orders to produce financial documents.

After hearing the arguments of PTI counsel Anwar Mansoor Khan and Akbar S. Babar’s counsel Syed Ahmed Hasan, the court adjourned the hearing until Oct 10, and ordered PTI to comply with the ECP orders.

Published in Dawn, September 12th, 2017

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