PTI foreign funding case: No part of scrutiny committee report should be kept confidential, says ECP chief
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday directed authorities to make public the entire report of the scrutiny committee constituted to audit the foreign funds of the ruling PTI.
The report compiled by the scrutiny committee confirmed that the PTI received funding from foreign nationals and companies, under-reported funds and concealed dozens of its bank accounts.
Later, it emerged that the report did not not include eight volumes of the documents and bank statements requisitioned through the State Bank of Pakistan. The documents concealed by the committee included all original 28 bank statements and year-wise details of foreign funds transferred to the PTI’s accounts between 2009-13.
The crucial pieces of evidence were kept confidential as per the committee’s own desires expressed on page 83 of its report which stated that “the committee is of the considered opinion that the portions of the report which have been prepared on the basis of (PTI) bank statements obtained through the SBP may be kept confidential and classified and may not be released in public domain.”
However, during today's hearing, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja directed that no segment of the report should be kept confidential and the entire report be provided to the petitioner, PTI founding member Akbar S. Babar.
He made the remarks after the petitioner's counsel, Ahmed Hassan, pointed out that some segments of the report had been kept secret and his client had been denied access to them.
Responding to the concerns raised by the petitioner, the ECP chief also sought a reply from the PTI's counsel on Feb 1 and adjourned the hearing.
Later, while speaking to media outside the ECP office in Islamabad, Minister of State for Information Farrukh Habib said that the allegations that the party had received funding from India and Israel had "not been proven".
He demanded that those who hurled the "baseless allegations" should tender an apology.
Petition against PTI
The PTI foreign funding case continues to linger since November 2014 when it was filed by Babar, the party’s founding member.
In his petition, 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 scrutiny committee was formed in March 2018 to completely scrutinise PTI accounts, but it took almost four years to present its report to the ECP, which was submitted in Dec 2021.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Imran Khan had welcomed the ECP's scrutiny of PTI's funding, which he said came through donations from overseas Pakistanis.
However, the premier also said that he looked forward to seeing similar scrutiny of the funding of the other two major political parties, PPP and PML-N.
"This will allow the nation to see the difference between proper political fundraising and extortion of money from crony capitalists and vested interests in exchange for favours at the nation's expense," he had said.