Awan strongly condemns opposition's effort to 'influence ECP by taking it hostage'

November 21, 2019

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Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan's remarks come after the ECP ordered the day-to-day hearing of the foreign funding case against the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI). — APP/File
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan's remarks come after the ECP ordered the day-to-day hearing of the foreign funding case against the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI). — APP/File

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan on Thursday strongly condemned the opposition's "despicable effort" to influence the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) by taking it "hostage".

Awan's remarks come after the ECP ordered day-to-day hearing of the foreign funding case against the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI). A day earlier, the opposition’s Rehbar Committee had submitted an application asking the election commission to decide the case before the expiry of the chief election commissioner’s term next month.

In a tweet, Awan said: "The Rehbar Committee themselves requires rehbari (guidance). They are constantly presenting the 'chor machae shor' flop film show."

She said the government was standing firm on its stance, adding: "Unlike others, we are not the ones to find an escape route from accountability."

In a subsequent tweet, Awan said that Prime Minister Imran Khan advocates accountability on the basis of the supremacy of the rule of the Constitution and without any discrimination.

"The whole country is witness to whom the country's highest court declared to be 'sadiq' and 'ameen' (honest and righteous) and who was declared to be dishonest," she added, referring to the Supreme Court judgement in 2017 in which Nawaz Sharif was declared ineligible to hold the office of prime minister.

In the opposition's application submitted to ECP Secretary Babar Yaqub Fateh Mohammad on Wednesday, the representatives of eight opposition parties urged the commission to hear the PTI foreign funding case on a daily basis.

The application pointed out that the foreign funding case against PTI had been pending with the ECP for the past five years.

Also on Wednesday, an ECP official said the foreign funding case against PTI was fixed for hearing before the scrutiny committee on November 26.

Additionally, the ECP official disclosed that notices had also been issued to the counsel for the PML-N and PPP, asking them to appear before the committee on the same date.

Foreign funding cases against PML-N and PPP had been filed by PTI lawmakers. The ECP official said the notices to the PML-N and PPP lawyers had been issued around a week ago.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan asked party leaders not to worry about the foreign funding case, saying the PTI had already got audit of the party funds conducted and its proof had been submitted to the courts and relevant forums.

The case

PTI’s founding member Akbar S. Babar had filed the case in 2014, alleging that nearly $3 million in illegal foreign funds were collected through two offshore companies and that money was sent through illegal 'hundi' channels from the Middle East to the accounts of 'PTI employees'. He had also alleged that the foreign accounts used to collect funds were concealed from the annual audit reports submitted to the ECP.

A scrutiny committee was formed in March last year to complete an audit of PTI’s funding sources in one month. Its mandate was later extended for an indefinite period.

On Oct 10, the ECP had rejected four applications filed by PTI seeking secrecy during the scrutiny of its foreign funding sources.