PTI wants Akbar Babar out of foreign funding case

Lawyer completes arguments before ECP bench, Babar’s lawyer to argue on 16th


Our Correspondent March 02, 2022
Akbar S Babar. PHOTO: INP/FILE

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ISLAMABAD:

The lawyer for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) completed arguments in the foreign funding case on Tuesday, while the bench directed the counsel for the petitioner Akbar S Babar to conclude his arguments on the next hearing of the case.

A three-member bench of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja, and comprising ECP Member Balochistan Shah Mohammad Jatoi and ECP Member Sindh Nisar Durrani, heard the case.

During the hearing, the PTI lawyer, Anwar Mansoor, requested the bench to dismiss the complaint of Babar, saying that once the scrutiny was done, the matter would be between the ECP and the political party and that no third party could be a party to the case.

Mansoor further said that the PTI had filed two petitions in the case but Babar did not submit reply to any of those petitions. He added that since Babar could not provide any evidence, his complaint should be dismissed. He added Babar had no right to claim, nor authority to come to the hearing.

Babar’s lawyer replied that Tuesday’s hearing was about objections to the report of the scrutiny committee. He told the bench that the PTI’s applications were nothing but a waste of time. He pointed out that six petitions of the PTI had already been rejected in the past.

The CEC said Babar had been fighting the case for many years. Member Balochistan Shah Mohammad Jatoi asked whether or not the ECP could seek help from anyone. Mansoor said the Supreme Court had clarified that political parties were obliged to disclose the sources of funding to the ECP.

Read PTI given access to PML-N, PPP accounts in funding case

He added that the ECP could take information from anyone but its only job was to review it. After completion of scrutiny, he continued, the matter was between the ECP and the political party. He mentioned that the scrutiny committee had said that Babar’s information could not be verified.”

The PTI lawyer stressed that no one could harass any political party, adding that after each hearing, a new story was told in the media. “Isn’t this harassment,” he asked. ECP Member Sindh Nisar Durrani said that both sides talked to the media.

The PTI lawyer said that allegations of foreign funding were levelled without any reason and even before the commission’s decision. “The commission had not yet decided whether the banned funding has taken place or not.

Mansoor said that the ECP was not a court that decides the dispute between the two parties, while the scrutiny committee was only mandated to certify. He added that the PTI was accountable to the ECP over its funding and not to anyone else.

He said that Akbar S Babar had personal issue with PTI chief Imran Khan and Babar wanted revenge. Since Babar could not give evidence, therefore, his complaint should be dismissed and the ECP should continue proceedings on the report of scrutiny committee.

Babar’s lawyer said that the Election Commission had decided on April 1, 2015 not to disclose the sources of funding. The lawyer further said that the scrutiny committee had stated that the PTI had hidden its accounts.

The bench directed Babar’s lawyer to complete his arguments on the next hearing on March 16. It also sought reply from the PTI on the scrutiny committee report till next hearing. Further hearing of the case was adjourned till March 16.

Media talks

Talking to the media after the hearing, State Minister Farrukh Habib said that the ECP wanted to hear the case and the PTI would satisfy the bench. Earlier, he added, the PTI had submitted a record of 40,000 donors to the scrutiny committee.

The minister said that it was demanded of the ECP to activate the scrutiny committee so that scrutiny of foreign funding of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) could be conducted.’

“We request the election commission to exclude Akbar S Babar from the case for not presenting the certified document as evidence,” the state minister said. “There is no justification for Akbar S Babar to be involved in this case.”

Habib said that other parties have no record of funding from abroad. According to the late PPP leader Benazir Bhutto’s book, Nawaz Sharif took money from Osama bin Laden to overthrow her government, the minister claimed.

He also charged that Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the head of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (HUI-F) built the secretariat from the money that came from Libya. He also said that the PPP kept giving money to Mark Segal for lobbying.

Separately, Akbar S Babar told a press conference at the National Press Club in Islamabad, that the PTI foreign funding case was the biggest scam in the history of the country. He added that the PTI received $7.3 million in funding from foreign organisations, including Indian nationals and offshore companies.

Babar charged that PTI chief and Prime Minister Imran Khan gave fake certificate to the ECP. “Notices should be issued to them and action should be taken against them for hiding illegal funding and accounts,” he added.

Relief package

State Minister Farrukh Habib also said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had given relief to the people by reducing prices of petroleum products and electricity tariff. He added that the current government successfully overcome the Covi-19 pandemic.

“The opposition is in tears after Imran Khan’s public relief package. PPP’s long march had turned into a quick march,” he said, adding that the PPP ruined Sindh during the past 15 years. “Today, the people of Sindh are demanding health cards, the PPP government should pay attention to this.”

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