ECP discards PTI pleas for secrecy in foreign funding case

Bench instructs PTI representatives to appear before committee on Oct 14

​ Our Correspondent October 10, 2019

ISLAMABAD: A three-member bench of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) headed by Sardar Mohammad Raza Thursday rejected four applications filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) requesting secrecy during the investigation of its foreign funding case.

The ECP bench directed the scrutiny committee to carry on its work and instructed PTI representatives to appear before the committee on October 14.

A scrutiny committee was constituted in March 2018 to complete the audit of PTI's funding sources in one month. Later on, its mandate was extended for an indefinite period.

During the last hearing on October 1, the bench had reserved its verdict on PTI's applications after listening to the arguments of various parties to the case.

Speaking to media after the verdict, former PTI member and petitioner Akbar S Babar remarked that the process of the investigation of PTI's funding would reach its logical conclusion, and added that there had been more than two dozen meetings of the scrutiny committee.

He noted that the funding case would divulge facts to the people and clarified that he did not have any personal vendetta against Premier Imran Khan.

Akbar S Babar had filed the foreign funding case in 2014, alleging that nearly $3 million in illegal foreign funds were collected through two offshore companies and that money was sent through illegal 'hundi' channels from the Middle East to accounts of 'PTI employees'. He had also alleged that the foreign accounts that used to collect funds were concealed from the annual audit reports submitted to the ECP.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has decided to file a new case of party funding against the PTI.

The PML-N sought the details of accounts of PTI from 2014 to 2018 from the ECP and filed an application for the purpose.

PML-N’s Mohsin Shahnawaz Ranjha said that Nawaz league would not become a party to Aksbar S Babar and will file a separate case against the PTI.

Foreign funding case

Disgruntled founding member of PTI Akbar S Babar had filed the foreign funding case before the ECP in 2014 after he developed differences with PTI Chairman Imran Khan over alleged internal corruption and abuse of laws governing political funding.

For over a year, the proceedings of the case were delayed in the ECP as the PTI had filed a writ petition in October 2015 in the Islamabad High Court seeking to restrain ECP from scrutinising its accounts.

In February 2017, the IHC had remanded the case back to the ECP for a fresh review of its jurisdiction. On May 8 of the same year, a full bench of the ECP had once again declared its complete jurisdiction over the matter and stated that the PTI had failed to produce any evidence that the petitioner had been expelled from the party.

In March 2018, a scrutiny committee was formed to ascertain any wrongdoing in PTI's foreign funding accounts.

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