ECP issues notices in foreign funding case

Published March 17, 2021
The Election Commission of Pakistan on Tuesday issued notices to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and its own scrutiny committee to appear before it on March 22. — AFP/File
The Election Commission of Pakistan on Tuesday issued notices to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and its own scrutiny committee to appear before it on March 22. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan on Tuesday issued notices to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and its own scrutiny committee to appear before it on March 22 to explain their position over secrecy of scrutiny in the PTI foreign funding case.

The decision was taken by a three-member bench headed by ECP member from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa retired Justice Irshad Qaiser after hearing the complaint of the petitioner in the foreign funding case, Akbar S. Babar, on Tuesday against the scrutiny committee’s decision to keep PTI documents secret.

On Tuesday, the petitioner’s lawyer, Syed Ahmad Hassan Shah, made arguments challenging the decision of the committee to keep PTI accounts secret. He invoked the right to information act to seek access to the documents. He said access to PTI documents is a right of the petitioner “in light of Article 5(4) of the Political Parties Order, 2002 (the “PPO”) as well as Section 203(5) of the Election Act, 2017”. He said by keeping documents secret, the committee is violating its terms of reference that demand scrutiny in the presence of both parties. He said without access to all PTI accounts, the scrutiny process would remain a sham and a mere attempt to rubberstamp fake documents.

PTI, scrutiny committee summoned on 22nd

Mr Shah emphasised that the secrecy order of the scrutiny committee is “illegal and unlawful as there is no provision of law, or any legal, equitable or judicious basis for keeping secret” according to the dictates of Articles 4 and 10A of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973.

He stated that other than writing a letter to State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to seek PTI accounts, there has been no investigation whatsoever of the credible evidence provided regarding illegal funding from across the globe. He read out the excerpts of the scrutiny committee order sheets where the committee refuses to share accounts.

Talking to reporters later, PTI founding member Akbar S. Babar stated that Prime Minister Imran Khan fears that if the details of the concealed bank accounts come to light, it could reveal billions of rupees of illegal funding into the concealed PTI accounts. This could open a Pandora’s box leading to charges of money laundering, corruption, and concealment of accounts against PM Khan and others as they operated these accounts.

Similarly, PM Khan fears that the ECP could seek SBP’s assistance in requisitioning the private bank accounts of four PTI employees authorised by the six-member PTI finance board in July 2011 to collect donations from Pakistan and abroad.

Published in Dawn, March 17th, 2021

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