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April 7, 2021

Judgment reserved on complaint filed against ECP scrutiny committee

National

April 7, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan on Tuesday reserved its judgment on the complaint filed by the petitioner of the PTI Foreign Funding Case Akbar S Babar against the ECP Scrutiny Committee’s order to keep the PTI financial documents secret.

These documents include the mostly secret 23 PTI bank statements, ultimately revealed on the instructions of the State Bank of Pakistan, which was asked to do so by the Election Commission. It is understood that the order may have consequences on the long pending foreign funding case filed back in November 2014.

In its order of February 9, 2021, the Scrutiny Committee had contended that besides other reasons, the documents could not be shared with the petitioner as the respondent (PTI) objects to it.

The ECP, during the last hearing, had directed the counsel for PTI, Syed Khawar Shah, to come up with arguments as to why the documents could not be shared with the petitioner.

Later, talking to the media, Ahmad Hassan Shah hoped that the ECP would allow unfettered scrutiny of all PTI documents to ensure credible and transparent long delayed scrutiny of PTI accounts as specified under the law.

“This is the only way to determine that funds were received legally and through legal channels. It is the responsibility of the political party to account for its source of funds. Any member of a party has the legal right to access its accounts which cannot be denied under any pretext. Just like all the evidence of prohibited funding, it must be put before public purview, similarly all the documents submitted by PTI in its defence should also be open to scrutiny,” he argued.

Babar shared details of allegedly prohibited funding received by PTI. He said documented evidence is before the ECP Scrutiny Committee which has neither been denied nor rejected.

In this regard, he mentioned evidence of USD 3.0 million received from the US, at least DKK 249,669 received from Denmark, at least 226,240 Riyals received from Saudi Arabia, about 694,000 Riyals received Saudi Arabia annually, and AED 590,000 received annually from the UAE, besides other evidence of funds from Kuwait, Qatar, Australia, Canada and Britain. He said the PTI has not disclosed any account functional in any of these countries despite evidence of six admitted foreign accounts.

Meanwhile, PTI Senator Faisal Vawda requested the Election Commission to dismiss the disqualification case against him, as a four-member bench of the Election Commission, headed by the chief election commissioner, heard the case of disqualification of Senator Vawda. The ECP exempted the PTI lawmaker from appearing in person in the case, while his lawyer sought time from the ECP to present his arguments.

During the hearing, the chief election commissioner said that two out of four petitioners had not submitted their reply to the Election Commission and all the petitioners would be heard together.

Vawda told the commission that the Islamabad High Court had dismissed the petition against him. He also requested the Election Commission to dismiss the petitions as the precious time of Election Commission was being wasted.

At this, the chief election commissioner said the decision would be taken only after reviewing the response of the petitioners. The ECP sought arguments from the petitioners at the next hearing and adjourned the hearing till May 20.