ISLAMABAD: The Ele­c­tion Commission of Pak­is­tan (ECP) on Wednesday rejected Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) application seeking to cross-examine witnesses in the prohibited funding case against it.

Headed by Chief Elec­tion Commissioner Sikan­dar Sultan Raja, a three-member ECP bench also rejected PTI’s objections to the show-cause notice issued to it by the ECP secretary and decided to proceed with it.

The commission while an­nouncing the verdict res­erved on Dec 20 also dismissed the plea for cross-examination of the ECP scrutiny committee and the bankers concerned.

The ECP, in a unanimous decision, had ruled in August last year that the PTI received prohibited funding and issued a notice to the party asking why the funds should not be confiscated.

IHC dismisses FIA’s plea for Imran’s bail cancellation

In the written verdict, the commission noted that the party “knowingly and willfully” received funding from Wootton Cricket Limited, operated by business tycoon Arif Naqvi. It said the party was a “willing recipient” of the prohibited money to the tune of $2,121,500 (or over Rs597 million at current foreign exchange rate). The ECP said that the PTI “knowingly and willfully” also received donations from Bristol Engineering Services (a UAE-based company), E-Planet Trus­t­ees (a Cayman Islands pri­vate registered company), SS Marketing Manchester (a UK-based private company), PTI USA LLC-6160 and PTI USA LLC-5975 which were “hit by prohibition and in violation of Pakistani laws”.

The ECP noted that the PTI had owned only eight of its accounts before the commission while declaring 13 other accounts ‘unknown’. “The data obta­ined from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) reveals that all the 13 accounts disowned by the PTI were opened and operated by senior PTI management and leadership at central and provincial level,” it said.

Instead of responding to the show-cause notice, the PTI had filed a fresh application seeking cross-exa­m­i­nation of key witnesses.

When during the course of hearing on Wednesday, CEC Raja questioned the progress of the case before the Islamabad High Court, the PTI lawyer replied that the IHC had directed the commission to hear the parties. CEC Raja immediately remar­ked that the ECP had not been stopped from taking action. “Now let’s take this case forward,” he added.

Plea rejected

A division bench of the IHC comprising Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri rejected an FIA plea seeking cancellation of bail granted to PTI chairman Imran Khan in prohibited funding case.

FIA’s special prosecutor Raja Rizwan Abbasi arg­ued before the court that Mr Khan was neither co­operating with the agency nor did he join the probe.

In response to a question regarding State Bank of Pakistan’s nod for initiating the inquiry against Mr Khan, the prosecution said that the SBP initiated the suspicious transaction report (STR) and the investigation officer had recorded statement of the relevant officials before registering the FIR. He said that the investigation agency already absolved Saifullah Khan Niazi, Amir Mehmood Kayani and another suspect for want of evidence. But the investigation against Mr Khan was stuck up due to his non-cooperation.

When the bench inquired if Mr Khan had ever contacted the FIA, Mr Abbasi said the counsel for Mr Khan wrote to the investigation officer to record his version at home or through a video link. However, he argued that Mr Khan was misusing the concession of bail granted to him and requested the court to cancel the bail order.

Contempt petition

IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq issued noti­ces to the city administration and Islamabad police chief on a petition filed by Assistant Commissioner (Shalimar) Abdullah Khan seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against Mr Khan for defying a court direction.

Published in Dawn, March 23rd, 2023

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