ISLAMABAD: The scrutiny committee of the Election commission of Pakistan (ECP) met on Tuesday for the first time after perusal of PTI accounts by two financial analysts nominated by the petitioner in the foreign funding case.
The 55-hour perusal of the PTI accounts concluded on June 2. It was authorised by the ECP vide its order of April 14 following repeated applications filed by petitioner Akbar S. Babar seeking access to the ruling party’s financial documents.
According to sources, the meeting remained inconclusive as one of the members of the scrutiny committee was unable to attend it due to illness. They said the petitioner’s lawyer Syed Ahmad Hassan Shah, assisted by Badar Iqbal Chaudhry, made elaborate arguments on how and why the case had lingered on since November 2014.
He said the first phase ended when the committee was formed in March 2018. The second phase ended in April this year when the ECP intervened to allow the perusal of the PTI documents refused by the committee. The lawyer told the committee that the third phase would end when it would submit its findings to the ECP as directed by the commission in its April 14 order.
Hassan Shah offered the committee assistance in preparing its report and answering any question on the evidence submitted. He said the fourth phase would commence when the ECP would review all the reports, including that of the petitioner’s financial analysts.
He is reported to have said that “we have concluded perusal of photocopies as not a single original document was shared during 55 hours of perusal”. Hassan Shah criticised the committee for practically doing nothing over the past three years.
The meeting was adjourned without fixing the date of next meeting which will be communicated later to the two parties.
Akbar S. Babar, a founding member of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, claimed that not a single original document of PTI’s finances had been shared for perusal.
The scrutiny committee also failed to produce a single PTI bank statement out of its six admitted international bank accounts for perusal. Similarly, no details of funds received in the personal accounts of PTI employees, authorised by the party’s finance board in July 2011, was shared for perusal.
Mr Babar regretted the lack of cooperation by the committee and said the foreign funding case had now turned into a “foreign funding gate”. He said the issue of the committee’s efforts to cover facts instead of revealing them would be raised at all appropriate forums.
Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2021