PTI's plea to disassociate Babar from case rejected

Ruling party’s foreign funding case adjourned till 31st as its lawyers miss hearing


Our Correspondent March 18, 2022
Akbar S Babar. PHOTO: INP/FILE

ISLAMABAD:

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday rejected the PTI's plea to disassociate the petitioner, the party’s founding member Akbar S Babar, from the funding case against the ruling party.

As the ruling party’s lawyers were absent at the hearing, the commission adjourned the case yet again till March 31.

PML-N leaders Ahsan Iqbal and Tahira Aurangzeb reached the commission's office during the hearing, wherein the petitioner’s lawyer, Advocate Ahmad Hassan Shah, said the ruling party had not disclosed many of its foreign bank accounts. He added that the scrutiny committee did not seek the details of the London bank account, thus failing to justify its work.

Referring to PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, he pointed out that a prime minister had been disqualified for failing to disclose his salaries.

He added that it was wrong of the former premier to receive a salary.

The lawyer pointed out that no Pakistani could set up a company in the US and send funds from its accounts, adding that the ruling party had been “funded by American and Indian citizens”.

He pointed out that the law did not allow any party to operate in another country, and in the scrutiny committee’s report, every Muslim had been identified as a Pakistani due to their name.

Shah pointed out that review report of the petitioner, Akbar S Babar, was not brought to the notice of the scrutiny committee.

Taking the committee to task, the lawyer said that it had been set up for fact-finding, but it had been comparing the funding rules of France and US. He pointed out that the data of seven hidden bank accounts had also come to light.

Following his arguments, the commission suspended the hearing due to the absence of PTI’s lawyer, and adjourned the case till March 31.

Earlier during the hearing, the ECP was told that PTI’s lawyers Anwar Mansoor and Shah Khawar were not available as they were busy in the Lahore High Court. The assistant lawyer said that they had already put in a request for the date to be changed, and it would be better if two weeks were given to decide on the appeal.

Member Balochistan Shah Muhammad Jatoi asked which law prohibited action on the intention to file an appeal, and sought the arguments of Babar’s lawyer.

Member Sindh Nisar Durrani remarked that repeatedly asking for adjournment was not a good tradition, and the case had already consumed so much time that they should be allowed to make a decision.

The chief election commissioner asked for how many more years did they want the case to be put on hold.

The commission then directed Shah to continue his arguments.

The assistant lawyer said that first Babar’s status should be decided by the high court.

After the hearing, PML-N’s Iqbal, while speaking to the media, said that PTI’s lawyers were absent once again, and sought adjournment of the case.

He pointed out that the ruling party had been “evading the foreign funding case for seven years”. “The leader who calls others fugitives is himself a fugitive,” he added.

He said that Nawaz was disqualified for not taking salary from his son, but millions of rupees were not shown in the case. He mentioned that concerns were being raised on the scrutiny committee’s report, which had pointed out embezzlement of millions of rupees.

Babar also spoke to the media, saying that the case was coming to an end as evidence of “complete illegal funding” had been presented to the ECP.

Saying that he was fighting for a bigger cause, he accused the ruling party of being funded by India.

Claiming that Prime Minister Imran Khan “destroyed” Pakistan, he said that they would “rebuild” PTI with the slogan of “Better Pakistan”.

Separately, Minister of State Farrukh Habib told the media that the ECP had rejected the miscellaneous petitions in the foreign funding case, and the decision would be challenged in the Islamabad High Court.

He claimed that those on “easy load” had been coming to the commission on days, and alleged that Babar was also being given money.

“Now, PML-N leaders are secretly coming to the commission,” he added.

He asked PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz to come to the ECP with the details of her party’s accounts, adding that the government would not allow the opposition to flee.

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