Thursday May 19, 2022

Foreign funding case: ECP rejects PTI's request to keep parts of scrutiny committee report confidential

"No document of the scrutiny committee is confidential," Election Commission of Pakistan says in its written order

By Web Desk
January 18, 2022
The Election Commission of Pakistan signboard, outside its building, in Islamabad. — Photo courtesy Radio Pakistan
The Election Commission of Pakistan signboard, outside its building, in Islamabad. — Photo courtesy Radio Pakistan

The Election Commission of Pakistan on Tuesday rejected a request by the PTI to keep certain portions of a report by a scrutiny committee of the ECP confidential.

The scrutiny committee was formed in 2019 to audit foreign funding received by the PTI. The case began in 2014 when the party's founding member, Akbar S Babar, filed it.

A written order was issued by the ECP after Babar complained that certain portions of the report had not been provided to him.

"No document of the scrutiny committee is confidential," the ECP said in its order.

Babar triumphantly tweeted about the development, saying: "ECP ends secrecy in PTI foreign funding case."

He said that now "all documents, including 'eight volumes' acquired through State Bank of Pakistan" which were kept secret will now be shared with him.

The next date of hearing is set for February 1, he added.

PTI's counsel Anwar Mansoor had contended that there are certain flaws in the report which must be amended. "If we have been at fault anywhere, we will admit it," he had said.

Meanwhile, the ECP directed the scrutiny committees formed to probe foreign funding of the PPP and PML-N to submit a report in the next 10 days.

'PTI only party that attaches importance to transparent fund collection'

In response, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Farrukh Habib said that the PTI is the sole political party that attaches importance to transparency in the funds collection process.

Talking to the media, he said Akbar S Babar, "apparently on the payroll of the PML-N", had been fully exposed by the findings of the ECP scrutiny committee.

It was, in fact, a storm in a tea cup, as according to page 81 of the committee’s report, Babar "could not produce any document or evidence, which could be presented in any court of law", he said.

The minister said Babar used to claim that the PTI was being funded from India and Israel, but "he could not present any proof" in that regard.

Similarly, he said, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz "harped on the same allegation" outside the Election Commission of Pakistan many times, "but she faced embarrassment when it was proved wrong" in the scrutiny committee’s report.

The PTI runs its affairs in a transparent manner and the Opposition’s accusations about its funds collection process "proved false", he said.

Habib said that the PTI is a party which is "equally supported" by Pakistanis both at home and abroad.

He asked Babar to apologise to overseas Pakistanis for "hurting their sentiments" by levelling "baseless allegations".

The minister challenged Maryam and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to disclose details of their parties accounts.

"The PML-N should tell the nation who  Bhoon Das and Shujat Azeem are and what amounts they had deposited in the party's accounts," he remarked.

Likewise, Bilawal should also divulge details about "an account of Rs350 million", he added.

Similarly, he said, Maulana Fazlur Rehman should also disclose as to "how he had received funding from Libya".

The minister requested the ECP to activate the scrutiny committee as soon as possible so that sources of funding of all other parties, including the PPP and the PML-N, are also scrutinised.

The ECP should resolve the issue as per the decision of the Supreme Court, he added.

He said there was a mention of Walton Cricket Ground in the report, but it was "nothing unusual" as a "friendly cricket match was played" between Pakistani nationals and the money was transferred "through a banking channel".