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January 14, 2020

PTI foreign funding case: ECP scrutiny panel makes no progress

National

January 14, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The ECP Scrutiny Committee formed to investigate the alleged PTI foreign funding met for the record 51st time in the Election Commission of Pakistan Secretariat Monday with little progress to its credit.

The committee was formed in March 2018 to complete scrutiny of PTI accounts in one month. However, after almost two years, there is a little tangible progress to show while the case in the Election Commission was filed in November 2014 by erstwhile close aide of PTI Chairman Imran Khan, Akbar S Babar, who had alleged irregularities in foreign funding of the party.

ECP sources privy to the meeting said that the Scrutiny Committee had yet to scrutinise the 23 PTI bank accounts, revealed on the State Bank of Pakistan instructions that were apparently (mostly) concealed from the ECP. The committee continues to keep the bank statements secret, perhaps fearing PTI may raise objections to sharing the same with the petitioner or making them public.

It was learnt the PTI had challenged the contents of its Special Audit Report. The Special Audit was authorised on the instructions of PTI Chairman Imran Khan in March 2013. The special audit report had validated the allegations of major financial irregularities including receiving donations in private bank accounts of PTI employees.

However, the committee has yet to approach the Lahore based auditor to verify the Special Audit Report as the PTI has accused the auditor of going beyond his mandate.

Similarly, sources pointed out that the committee had also yet to conduct any fact finding of PTI bank accounts operated abroad by its international chapters that were all concealed from the ECP.

On its part, PTI admits of authorising foreign chapters to operate bank accounts abroad and yet has not shared any details of these bank accounts with the Committee.

The petitioner and PTI founding member Akbar S. Babar feels increasingly disillusioned with the scrutiny process. After two years and scores of meetings, he fears there is no end in sight.

He had hoped that after the October 10, 2019 ECP verdict holding PTI responsible for the historic delay in the case, the ECP would redouble its efforts to conclude the five years old case.

However, this did not happen as ECP became dysfunctional on December 6, 2019 after the retirement of the former CEC Justice (R) Sardar Muhammad Raza.