ECP calls for report in PTI foreign funding case on Aug 17

Updated 09 Jul 2020

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ECP order says matter will be decided after the perusal of all record submitted by parties and collected by committee from SBP. — AFP/File
ECP order says matter will be decided after the perusal of all record submitted by parties and collected by committee from SBP. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: In a major development, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has directed the panel scrutinising the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) foreign funding to submit its final report by Aug 17.

The directives have been given in an order passed by the commission last month.

The order, a copy of which is available with Dawn, states that after the submission of the report by the committee on Aug 17, the ECP “will decide the issue after the perusal of all the record submitted by parties and collected by the Committee from SBP with the assistance and cooperation of the parties and their counsel”.

The order says that “full opportunity will be given to both parties to assist the Commission in a meaningful way to reach the credible conclusion”.

The ECP has directed the Scrutiny Committee “to submit its final report to the Commission within shortest possible time instead of referring applications submitted by the parties to the Commission for decision” as this “situation is causing delay.”

Earlier, the petitioner Akbar S. Babar had raised several objections to the committee’s refusal to share with him documents submitted by the PTI and bank statements acquired from the State Bank of Pakistan.

The petitioner had also complained in an application that the Scrutiny Committee had not “revealed any effort to seek details of PTI fund raising and mode of remittance to Pakistan, PTI bank accounts maintained abroad and the money received in private bank accounts of PTI employees.” Mr Babar had said that he was a founding member of the party and “entitled by law to have access to full accounts of the party but the Committee is determined to deny the lawful access” and therefore the petitioner could not be part of the eyewash of a scrutiny.

The petitioner had requested the commission to requisition the entire record and conduct the scrutiny itself or direct the Scrutiny Committee to submit its fact finding report no later than two weeks from the date of the ECP order.

The ECP Scrutiny Committee also held a meeting on Wednesday but there was little progress as one of its members has recently retired and his replacement is yet to be notified. The next meeting of the committee is scheduled for July 15.

Talking to Dawn, petitioner Babar termed the ECP order a step forward. He said the entire concept of the state of Madina had been turned on its head when instead of answering legitimate questions of public interest, the PTI had deliberately delayed the case on one pretext or another.

Mr Babar said that the case would prove to be a landmark in regulating political parties with far reaching consequences to bring transparency and accountability within political parties.

“Political parties are public entities and must be regulated under relevant laws. As long as political parties are not institutionalised, they would remain a tool to enter the corridors of power to serve vested interests. The lack of regulation of political parties has turned them into personal fiefdoms. This can only end if political parties are turned into nurseries of credible leadership, instead of crooked leadership, by enforcing regulatory laws,” he said.

Published in Dawn, July 9th, 2020