ISLAMABAD: The financial adviser of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) said on Wednesday that the Election Commission of Pakistan’s scrutiny committee lacked the professional and technical competence to audit the party’s accounts.

Giving arguments before a three-member ECP bench in the foreign funding case, PTI adviser Najmus Saqib said: “It would have been better had the committee spent time on research.” Since the panel lacked professional and technical capacity, it should have sought assistance, he added.

The petitioner failed to provide documents to the committee, he argued, adding that all the funds received by the party were accounted for and reflected in documents.

Despite being told that the scrutiny committee’s terms of reference were about fact-finding and that he should limit his arguments to the financial facts of the committee’s report instead of making arguments that had already been made in detail by the PTI legal counsel, the financial adviser continued his arguments on international audit practices.

Counsel says party experts will provide money trail of all funding today

He argued that the ECP formats seeking funding details were not specific. The foreign funding case was a first impression case and detailed formats for presenting funding details were yet to be fully tested, he added.

At one point when the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) commented that the presentation on best audit practices made “us more confused than before”, PTI counsel Anwar Mansoor Khan intervened and assured the ECP that the party’s financial experts would ensure on Thursday the money trail of funds was ready.

The ECP adjourned the hearing to Thursday.

Talking to reporters outside the ECP, the PTI founding member, Akbar S. Babar, who had filed the complaint over foreign funding some eight years ago, said the PTI had so far failed to present money trail of its funding even after conclusion of all legal arguments by Anwar Mansoor Khan.

He hoped the party’s financial experts would conclude their arguments in the next few days. He said attempts to “intimidate constitutional bodies” should be resisted with full force of the law.

Mr Babar said the economic crisis stemmed from an unending political crisis caused by power-driven people who did not bother about the masses. He said only a reckless leadership could think of launching street protests at a time when the economy was in the doldrums.

He told the media that immediate elections were not the solution to the looming financial and economic collapse.

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2022

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