ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday rejected the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) pleas against the terms of reference (TORs) of its scrutiny committee and seeking in camera proceedings of the committee without the petitioner, PTI founding member Akbar S. Babar.

ECP directed the scrutiny committee it formed on March 12 to complete its mandate of scrutinising PTI foreign funding under the original TORs without any of the changes demanded by PTI.

The ECP scrutiny committee was mandated to complete the scrutiny of PTI’s foreign funding in one month, commencing April 3. However, the committee’s work was stalled as PTI refused to submit requisitioned financial statements, arguing that it has objections to the TORs of the committee and wanted the scrutiny to be held in secrecy and without the presence of the petitioner.

Committee allows PTI to submit financial statements till June 5 before it invokes other legal options

On Monday, a full bench of the ECP headed by Chief Election Commissioner retired Justice Sardar Mohammad Raza and four other members of the Election Commission heard detailed arguments from the two counsels and reserved judgement for Wednesday.

Babar Awan represented PTI while the petitioner was represented by Syed Ahmed Hassan Shah.

Talking to Dawn, petitioner Akbar S. Babar said he was considering filing an application before the ECP, requesting the suspension of the allotment of an election symbol for the PTI till it comes clean with its accounts.

He said that through an order dated April 1, 2015, the ECP has already determined, after a detailed scrutiny of PTI’s audit reports, that “the declarations so submitted do not contain source of funds with details”.

Mr Babar said that PTI must not be allowed to contest the elections using money from prohibited sources as the law clearly forbids the allotment of an election symbol to a party which violates the funding laws, which he said is clearly the case with PTI.

He requested that the final judgement of the foreign funding case pending since November 2014 should be announced before the next elections, scheduled for July 25, to allow people to make an informed choice about their leadership.

Following the ECP judgement dismissing PTI’s complaints, the ECP scrutiny committee met in the afternoon.

In its last meeting on May 28, PTI had requested the committee for more time to submit its financial statements requisitioned in April this year, citing its pending complaints before the ECP. After the rejection of the party’s complaints, the committee once again sought the long overdue financial statements. However, once again PTI representatives sought more time for submitting these documents.

It was finally decided to allow the PTI till June 5 to submit the financial statements failing which the committee will invoke other legal options for proceeding with the probe into the party’s foreign funding.

Published in Dawn, May 31st, 2018

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