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October 20, 2020

No headway in PTI foreign funding case

National

October 20, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan’s Scrutiny Committee Monday could not make any headway in its meeting, as the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) sought yet another adjournment for unavailability of its lawyer, making it 25th adjournment sought by the PTI since the scrutiny began in foreign funding in March 2018.

The three-member committee’s initial mandate was of one month, which was subsequently extended indefinitely. In the committee’s last meeting held on October 15, the PTI had committed to responding to its queries regarding evidence on alleged illegal funding from the US.

The committee was reassigned by the ECP through its order of August 27 2020 to conduct scrutiny afresh and complete it in six weeks, ending on October 22, 2020. Its earlier report submitted on August 17, 2020 was rejected by ECP for lack of credibility and transparency. Since then, the committee has met on a few occasions with little progress to report.

It is expected the committee will approach the Election Commission for further instructions after expiry of yet another deadline of October 22, 2020. Instead of verifying the evidence on its own account, it was learnt that the committee in its last meeting of October 15 had presented the details of illegal funding downloaded from the US Department of Justice to PTI, asking the accused to verify the evidence against it. Whereas, the ECP in its order of August 27, 2020 had ordered that it was the committee’s duty and responsibility to scrutinize the authenticity and reliability and credibility of each and every document submitted by both parties and after proper scrutiny of documents.

It is understood that since there are piles of evidence to verify, it appears impossible for the committee to complete a detailed and comprehensive scrutiny of PTI foreign funding evidence by October 22 as directed by the ECP and yet another extension in the deadline is on the cards.