ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is meeting on Wednesday to take up a number of issues, including the report of the scrutiny committee which was constituted to audit foreign funds of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja will preside over the in-camera meeting, informed sources in the Commission told Dawn on Tuesday.

The ECP’s Director General of Law Muhammad Arshad will brief the commission on the report as head of the scrutiny committee, which was constituted in March 2019 to audit foreign funds of the PTI. Informed sources said that after an in-camera review of the report, the ECP would make a decision about public hearing of the case.

The committee submitted its report to the Commission last month, around six months after the last deadline given to it by the ECP in September last year.

After in-camera session, the commission will decide about public hearing of the case

The foreign funding case against the PTI has been lingering since November 2014 when it was filed by the party’s founding member and now dissident Akbar Babar.

In his petition, Mr Babar had alleged serious financial irregularities in the ruling party’s accounts, including illegal sources of funding, concealment of bank accounts within the country and abroad, money laundering and use of private bank accounts of party employees as a front to receive illegal donations from the Middle East.

The ECP had in September last year through an order trashed an “incomplete” report of its scrutiny committee on the foreign funding case, declaring that the report was neither complete nor well detailed.

“The scrutiny committee on the basis of documents provided by both parties and collected from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has neither scrutinised the record nor evaluated the evidence from the documents and failed to form a definite opinion,” the ECP had noted.

While reprimanding the panel, it had observed that it was the duty and responsibility of the committee to scrutinise the authenticity, reliability and credibility of each and every document(s) submitted to it by both parties.

It said the committee had the authority to approach proper forums, sources and people to confirm the authenticity or otherwise of the documents.

“Admittedly, law provides criteria of authenticity and credibility for scrutiny of the documents, but the committee has not adopted a proper procedure in this respect,” the ECP had observed.

Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2021

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