ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday rejected four applications filed by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) seeking secrecy during the scrutiny of its foreign funding sources.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sardar Mohammad Raza also instructed the scrutiny committee to continue its work and instructed PTI representatives to appear before the committee on Oct 14.
PTI’s founding member Akbar S Babar had filed the 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 used to collect funds were concealed from the annual audit reports submitted to the ECP. A scrutiny committee wasformed in March last year to complete an audit of PTI’s funding sources in one month. Its mandate was later extended for an indefinite period. In a previous hearing on Oct 1, the ECP bench had reserved its verdict on PTI’s applications after listening to the arguments of the various parties to the case.
Speaking to media after the verdict was announced, Babar said that the process of the scrutiny of PTI’s funding would be brought to its logical conclusion. He said that the funding case against PTI would reveal the true facts to people and clarified that he did not have any personal enmity with Prime Minister Imran Khan.
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 the 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 and hence lost the right to question the PTI’s accounts. In March 2018, a scrutiny committee had been formed to look into PTI’s foreign funding accounts to ascertain any wrongdoing.