ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Friday moved the Islamabad High Court (IHC) against the Election Commission of Pakistan’s decision to dismiss its applications for keeping the disgruntled party member out of the foreign funding case and for seeking confidentiality of its funding sources.

PTI secretary general and federal minister Asad Umar filed a petition before the IHC to challenge the March 15 decision of the commission.

The ECP had earlier rejected the PTI’s pleas seeking to keep Akbar S. Babar — the disgruntled founding member of the PTI and the complainant in the case — out of the foreign funding proceedings and for not sharing the documents requisitioned through the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) with him. Mr Babar had filed the foreign funding case in November 2014.

In his petition, the PTI secretary general said the ECP had been briefed in detail about reasons for keeping the complainant out of its proceedings and not sharing the record, including details obtained from State Bank of Pakistan. But, he said, the ECP “failed to appreciate the real issue in the matter, which was contained in the report of the [ECP] Scrutiny Committee”.

Senate panel rejects draft bill allowing office holders to take part in electioneering

The petitioner said the record not collected from Mr Babar ought to be kept confidential and urged the IHC to set aside the ECP’s decisions to share the record with the complainant and to allow him to be part of the foreign funding case.

Senate panel rejects draft bill

Meanwhile, a Senate panel by a majority vote rejected the elections amendment bill allowing public office holders to take part in poll campaign.

During a Senate committee meeting, the opposition members observed the ECP powers couldn’t be curtailed under Article 222 of the Constitution. They said framing and modifying the election code of conduct was constitutional mandate of the ECP and the ‘controversial’ ordinance was a clear interference in the exclusive domain of the ECP.

ECP Secretary Umar Hameed Khan told the senators that the ordinance promulgated on February 19 allowed public office holders to take part in campaigns for electoral candidates, but it denied level-playing field to parties and asked the government to revisit it.

Farooq H. Naek said ordinances with far-reaching implications should not be allowed to be promulgated in the darkness of night.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan said implementing the ordinance was responsibility of all when it was struck down neither by a court nor by the parliament.

Barrister Syed Ali Zafar said for supremacy of the Constitution and the law, the notices issued to and fines imposed on the prime minister and other public office-holders should be reversed.

Senator Kamran Murtaza said the president promulgated the ordinance to achieve political objectives, thereby encroaching upon the domain of the ECP that was constitutionally responsible to hold free and fair elections.

Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar questioned if the powers given to the ECP could be taken away or abridged under an ordinance, in negation of Article 222 of the Constitution.

The ECP secretary said the code of conduct in recent days had been violated 98 times due to the ordinance, revealing that 62 of the violations had been committed by the ruling side.

Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2022

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