ECP to announce verdict in PTI prohibited funding case on Tuesday at 10am

Published August 1, 2022
<p>A combination photo of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairperson Imran Khan (L) and Chief Election Commissioner ikander Sultan Raja (R). — Photo courtesy ARY News/DawnNewsTV</p>

A combination photo of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairperson Imran Khan (L) and Chief Election Commissioner ikander Sultan Raja (R). — Photo courtesy ARY News/DawnNewsTV

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will announce its verdict in the much-delayed prohibited funding case — previously referred to as the foreign funding case — against the PTI on Tuesday (August 2) at 10am.

The case, which was filed by party founding member Akbar S Babar, has been pending since Nov 14, 2014. Babar, who is no longer associated with PTI, had alleged serious financial irregularities in the party’s funding from Pakistan and abroad.

The PTI has denied any wrongdoing and maintains the funding is not from prohibited sources. Last month, ECP reserved its verdict in the case.

According to the ECP website, a three-member bench headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja, comprising Nisar Ahmed Durrani and Shah Muhammad Jatoi will preside over the hearing scheduled for tomorrow.

On January 4, the ECP’s scrutiny committee, formed in March 2018 to examine the PTI’s foreign funding in one month, finally submitted its report after 95 hearings and nearly four years.

According to the report, the party under-reported an amount of Rs312 million over a four-year period, between FY2009-10 and FY2012-13. Year-wise details show that an amount of over Rs145m was under-reported in FY2012-13 alone.

Coalition presses ECP to pass judgment

The development comes days after a delegation of the ruling alliance, comprising members of the Pakistan Democratic Movement, PPP, and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, met ECP officials and urged them to release the verdict in the case.

Talking to the media outside the commission, PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had said “justice merits immediate action, according to the law and due process, whenever there’s an issue.”

“We said that the election law in the country states that any party taking funding from a foreigner has to declare who gave it the money, when and how much. And no party has the authority to take funding from a foreign company.”

The former minister had also said that Babar had presented “clear evidence” in the case eight years ago when it had first surfaced.

Since then, the PTI tried to hamper the case by all means, he had alleged, and accused the party of exerting “government pressure” on the ECP during its tenure, as well as “political pressure” following its ouster.

Separately, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had also urged the ECP to announce its judgment on the long-delayed case last week.

“(The) foreign funding case is an example of how ‘Ladla’ is being protected. While NS (Nawaz Sharif) was convicted for not taking salary, ‘Ladla’ is untouchable. 8 years on, decision is still elusive. Imran Niazi filed 9 writ petitions in IHC & got 50 adjournments in the FF case,” the PM had tweeted.

PTI wants CEC gone

Meanwhile, PTI chairman Imran Khan has been persistent over his demand for CEC Raja’s resignation, accusing him of being biased towards PML-N.

Read more: Imran vs the CEC

He has alleged that CEC was “incompetent” and “dishonest”. “We don’t trust the ECP head and he has been imposed on us,” Mr Khan said. “We don’t have confidence in you. … you are a biased person in cahoots with a political party,” Imran said at a press conference last month.

Last week, PTI also decided to move a reference against Raja in the judicial commission. The party also got resolutions against the CEC passed from Punjab and Khyber Pakhtun­khwa Assemblies, where it has the majority.

At a party meeting today, he announced a protest outside the ECP office in Islamabad on Thursday (August 4) and urged supporters to demand the CEC’s resignation.

The foreign funding case

On June 21, the ECP had reserved its verdict in the prohibited funding case — previously referred to as the foreign funding case — against the PTI, which has not been issued yet.

The petitioner, Babar, had alleged serious financial irregularities in the party’s funding from Pakistan and abroad. The PTI had, however, denied any wrongdoing, and maintains the funding is not from prohibited sources.

The ECP’s scrutiny committee, formed in March 2018 to examine the PTI’s foreign funding in one month, finally submitted its report earlier this year after 95 hearings and nearly four years.

The report, based on eight volumes of record requisitioned through the State Bank of Pakistan, proved that the PTI leadership had committed gross violations of funding laws by allowing the collection of millions of dollars and billions of rupees without any source and details from foreigners, including Indian nationals and foreign companies.

The report, a copy of which is available with Dawn, had also mentioned a refusal by the party to divulge details of large transactions and the panel’s helplessness to get details of PTI’s foreign accounts and the funds collected abroad.

It also called into question the certificate signed by the PTI chairman, submitted along with the details of PTI’s audited accounts.

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