The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday ordered the formation of a committee to scrutinise the minutiae of the the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf's (PTI) sources of funding as it announced its verdict in the case.
Dissident founder member of the PTI and petitioner, Akbar S. Babar, had filed the case before the ECP in 2014 after he developed differences with PTI Chairman Imran Khan over internal corruption and abuse of laws governing political funding.
The petitioner had alleged that nearly $3 million in illegal foreign funds were collected through two offshore companies, registered under Khan’s signature, and that money was sent through illegal ‘hundi’ channels from the Middle East to accounts of PTI employees. He also alleged that the foreign accounts used to collect funds were concealed from the annual audit reports submitted to the ECP.
The party avoided submitting the required documents for nearly two years for one reason or the other; first approaching the Supreme Court to challenge the commission’s jurisdiction in the matter and later, challenging the maintainability of the case before the high court.
After months of foot-dragging, the PTI finally submitted account statements and documents detailing the funding it received from foreign sources over the past seven years to the ECP on Sept 18 last year despite being given several 'last warnings' by the commission ─ which went largely ignored ─ to submit the required documents.
In today's hearing, a five-judge bench headed by Chief Election Commissioner retired Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza, announced its verdict in the long-drawn out case before PTI's finance secretary Sardar Azhar and petitioner Akbar S. Babar. The PTI's lawyer, Anwar Mansoor, was not present in court today.
The bench ordered the formation of a three-member committee headed by the ECP's own director general law, Muhammad Arshad, to scrutinise details pertaining to the party's sources of funding.
As per the ECP verdict, the committee is to scrutinise all documents and evidence in the presence of the petitioner, the respondents and their lawyers, and to present a report on its findings within a month.
All parties in the case were directed to appear before the ECP on March 19.