Friday March 24, 2023

PTI foreign funding case: ECP scrutiny panel again fails to make progress

January 10, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The long-continuing Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf foreign funding case, filed in 2014 in the Election Commission of Pakistan, was delayed further Wednesday when again, no representative of PTI turned up at the ECP scrutiny committee meeting.

The committee decided to write a letter to PTI regarding its no-show at the scrutiny committee meetings and also make this part of the record. The panel had sought reply of the ruling party with regards to the documents, shared by SBP; however, it continued to wait on this context.

The meeting was adjourned after the petitioner and PTI Founding Member Akbar S Babar with his legal team, headed by Badar Iqbal Chaudhary, and the Director General Law, ECP, heading the Scrutiny Committee and two senior auditors from the defense establishment, waited for over an hour for any PTI representative to show up, but none appeared at the forum.

The ECP scrutiny committee is yet to finalize the much-awaited audit of PTI foreign funding and submit its findings before the Election Commission since its inception in March last year despite holding over two dozen meetings.

Initially, the three-member committee was mandated to complete the scrutiny process in one month, however, because of lack of PTI cooperation to submit its accounts and bank statements requisitioned by the committee, its time frame was extended by two months and subsequently for an indefinite period.

In July 2018, after exhausting its attempts to requisition PTI bank statements and record, the ECP wrote to the State Bank of Pakistan to requisition the party bank statements, which in turn, wrote letters to all scheduled bank presidents demanding PTI bank statements for the period 2009-2013 to be submitted to the ECP by July 16, 2018. Requesting anonymity, sources told The News that the PTI bank statements submitted before the ECP had revealed shocking discrepancies in PTI accounts. On SBP orders, scheduled banks have revealed 26 PTI bank accounts operated in different cities of Pakistan, whereas only eight were declared before the ECP. “The remaining 18 PTI bank accounts fall in the category of ‘fake or illegal bank accounts’, as these were not declared in the PTI annual audit reports submitted before the ECP as required under law,” they claimed.

The annual audit reports submitted before the ECP include a certification of authenticity and accuracy by the PTI Chairman Imran Khan, a legal requirement for all party heads. It is widely felt that details of fake or illegal PTI bank accounts and its money trail not declared before the ECP could put senior PTI leadership including its Chairman Imran Khan and others in senior government positions in serious legal jeopardy as they were the principal and co-principal signatories of these accounts.

Since the revelation of ‘fake or illegal PTI accounts’ in the presence of PTI representatives in a scrutiny committee meeting last year, the ruling party, it appears, has further stalled cooperation, which was aptly reflected in Wednesday’s no-show of any PTI representative in the scheduled scrutiny committee meeting is seen without any prior intimation.