ECP panel defers decision in PTI accounts case

Published March 19, 2021
The Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) scrutiny committee has again deferred the decision on summoning account details of four paid employees of the ruling PTI. — INP/File
The Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) scrutiny committee has again deferred the decision on summoning account details of four paid employees of the ruling PTI. — INP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) scrutiny committee has again deferred the decision on summoning account details of four paid employees of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) who had been authorised to collect party donations in and outside the country.

The panel met again on Thursday to scrutinise the PTI’s foreign funding. The process has been going on since March 2018 without much headway despite several deadlines to conclude the scrutiny and submit findings to the ECP.

Thursday’s meeting was exclusively focused on Akbar S. Babar’s application seeking State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) assistance in requisitioning front accounts of the four PTI employees, including a telephone operator, besides inviting the party’s central finance secretary who had admitted having received funds from the United Arab Emirates through Western Union in front accounts.

The PTI refuses on both counts to cooperate with the ECP committee. On the one hand, the party acknowledges that the front accounts existed and were used for funds collection and, on the other, it refuses to share the details of funds received. Similarly, the party refuses to get recorded the statement of its central finance secretary who had admitted that funds were received from the Middle East in these accounts.

Sources reveal that the petitioner’s lawyer, Syed Ahmad Hassan Shah, assisted by Badar Iqbal Chaudhry, wondered how the scale of illegal funding could be determined without requisitioning the front accounts.

Similarly, he argued, the PTI Special Audit Report was posted on the party’s website and hence it was a public document that must be accepted as primary evidence.

He regretted that even after three years of the scrutiny process there was little tangible progress as the committee refuses to investigate the available evidence.

In a related development, a three-member Supreme Court bench heard a petition filed by Prime Minister Imran Khan challenging the presence of PTI’s founding member Akbar S. Babar in the scrutiny committee as well as the jurisdiction of the ECP to decide his membership issue.

Published in Dawn, March 19th, 2021

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