ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has made it clear that it has nothing to do with the election and no-trust motion against the prime minister.

In a statement issued on Thursday, it also said that its role in disqualifying a member of the National Assembly on the ground of defection started only after it received a reference through the NA speaker.

The ECP said the speaker acted as a presiding officer in the complete process of a no-confidence motion.

It said the proceedings of the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan would be conducted under Article 95 of the Constitution, adding that Article 63-A explained the procedure about the action taken on the ground of floor crossing.

It said the party chief would make the declaration regarding the defection of the member concerned to the NA speaker, who would refer it to the chief election commissioner (CEC) within two days. “Our role will begin after receiving the declaration from the speaker,” the ECP said.

Rejects PTI’s pleas for secrecy of documents, exclusion of petitioner in foreign funding case

It said the CEC would place the reference before the commission for a decision within 30 days.

The ECP statement came a day after PM Khan accused the Pakistan Peoples Party leadership of sitting in Sindh House with a heap of money for horse-trading ahead of the no-trust motion against him.

Meanwhile, the ECP rejected two applications of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) seeking exclusion of the petitioner in the foreign funding case, Akbar S. Babar, from the case and keeping all records of the case secret, including the documents requisitioned through the State Bank of Pakistan.

As another request of the PTI seeking adjournment was turned down, the ECP announced the order dismissing the two PTI applications it had reserved on Tuesday.

In the order, the ECP stated that “we have observed that the issues which have already been decided through a series of litigations are being raised over and over again unnecessarily, which, if continued, would never end the litigation. Therefore, we expect that the parties would assist the Commission in proper way and avoid prolonging the proceedings enabling the Commission to conclude the same within the shortest possible time”.

Later, the ECP directed the petitioner’s counsel, Syed Ahmad Hassan Shah, assisted by Badar Iqbal Chaudhry, to start arguing the merits of the case in the light of the Scrutiny Committee Report.

Mr Shah briefed the Commission on the existing laws that permit on an individual Pakistani to give donations to a political party. He said the law allowed only a registered political party in Pakistan to operate at national, provincial and local levels. It did not allow a political party to be registered abroad nor did it allow a political party to operate beyond the jurisdiction of Pakistan or to open accounts abroad for collecting funds, which, according to him, the PTI continued to operate and kept secret from the ECP.

He said it was important to understand the context of the scrutiny committee report before discussing the facts of prohibited and foreign funding that have come to light. He said the scrutiny committee developed 11-point ‘document scrutiny criteria’, which was kept secret thus violating the number one criteria of the scrutiny committee’s terms of reference. As evidence, not a single scrutiny committee order sheet reflects sharing of these scrutiny criteria with the complainant.

He said that despite several inadequacies and inaccuracies of the scrutiny committee report, which have been pointed out in the review report, the scrutiny committee had substantiated with facts that indeed the PTI received massive prohibited and foreign funding to the millions of dollars and billions of rupees.

The CEC decided to adjourn the proceedings until March 31 when the petitioner’s lawyer would continue his arguments on the merits of the case.

Talking to reporters outside the ECP, the petitioner and PTI founding member Akbar S. Babar demanded that Prime Minister Khan should resign as he submitted fake and false certificates before the Election Commission of Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, March 18th, 2022

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