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February 25, 2021

Akbar S Babar challenges order of ECP Scrutiny Committee

Top Story

February 25, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Petitioner of the PTI Foreign Funding case Akbar S Babar challenged on Wednesday the ECP Scrutiny Committee’s order of Feb 9, 2021 to keep the PTI financial documents, including the 23 PTI bank statements revealed on the instructions of the State Bank of Pakistan, secret. He contended in the complaint which he filed that without sharing the entire record of the scrutiny, the petitioner/complainant could not properly assist the learned Scrutiny Committee to reach credible conclusions with regard to the purpose. He billed the committee order as illegal and unlawful, as there was provision to do so. On its part, the Scrutiny Committee claims that the documents cannot be shared with the petitioner as the respondent (PTI) objects to it.

The complaint has sought the ECP’s intervention to direct the Scrutiny Committee to conduct a fair and transparent scrutiny by providing the petitioner/complainant with copies of all record and documents forming part of the scrutiny process.

Babar said in the complaint that the Scrutiny Committee was formed in March 2018 to conduct the scrutiny of foreign funding of the respondent party in ‘the presence’ of the petitioner/complainant and the respondent party, according to the provided Terms of Reference (TORs).

He emphasised that the order to keep material forming part of the scrutiny process secret was unlawful and exceeds the mandate of the Scrutiny Committee, which was to conduct fact-finding and not fact hiding.

He challenged the secrecy order of the Scrutiny Committee terming it “illegal and unlawful as there is no provision of law, or any legal, equitable or judicious basis for keeping secret” and in the “light of the requirements of natural justice, equity, fairness, transparency, as well as pursuant to dictates of articles 4 and 10A of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973 (the Constitution).

Talking to the media outside the ECP, Babar argued that keeping the scrutiny process secret only raises concerns on the transparency of the scrutiny process. He said the document revealed in the media recently about four PTI central office employees authorised by six PTI leaders has been part of the complaint for six years and before the committee for almost three years.

“And hitherto, no action has been taken to seek details from the six PTI leaders that include; Saifullah Niazi, Aamir Kiani, Sardar Azhar Tariq Khan, Col (retd) Yunus Ali Raza, Dr Humayun Mohamand and Tariq Sheikh, who had authorized PTI employees to collect funds from within and outside Pakistan in their personal bank accounts," he pointed out.

Similarly, he continued, that no action has been initiated yet to requisition personal bank statements of the four PTI employees from the State Bank of Pakistan to ascertain the full scale and scope of the illegal funding despite the recent admission by non-other than the PTI finance secretary that funds from the Middle East were indeed received in the personal bank accounts of PTI employees.

He sounded optimistic that with the filing of the complaint, the ECP would address the matter of secrecy conclusively to ensure transparent and credible scrutiny process.