ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has filed in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) — which is hearing a case regarding violation of the law while receiving party funds — an application seeking secrecy of the scrutiny of its foreign funding.

The ECP has issued notices to petitioner and PTI’s founding member Akbar S. Babar for the hearing on May 28 of the PTI application. The ECP’s scrutiny committee, headed by the director general law and comprising two auditors from the defence establishment, was formed on April 3 with a mandate to complete the scrutiny process in one month.

The committee could not make any significant progress during one month of scrutiny as the PTI failed to submit financial documents, particularly bank statements of its accounts, sought by the committee.

The PTI had objected to the terms of reference (ToR) of the committee and the alleged breach of secrecy with the media reporting the scrutiny process.

Mr Babar expressed his surprise over the PTI’s application to keep its financial scrutiny secret. “If hands of Imran Khan and PTI are clean then why the demand for secrecy of scrutiny of public funds collected for public use?” he asked.

The petitioner said the PTI was hesitant to produce its financial statements because this would expose the full scale and scope of its illegal funding and its concealment from the ECP.

The case was first filed in November 2014 by Mr Babar accusing the PTI and its leadership of corruption and illegal funding of the party. For over a year, the proceedings of the case were delayed in the ECP as the PTI had filed a writ petition in October 2015 in the Islamabad High Court seeking to restrain the ECP scrutiny of its accounts.

In February 2017, the IHC remanded the case back to the ECP for a fresh review of its jurisdiction. On May 8 last year, a full bench of the ECP once again expressed its complete jurisdiction over the case and stated that the PTI had failed to produce any evidence that the petitioner had been expelled from the party and hence lost the right to question PTI accounts.

Published in Dawn, May 17th, 2018

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