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April 20, 2021

Foreign funding case: PTI challenges ECP order on accounts perusal

Top Story

April 20, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Monday challenged the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) order of allowing perusal of its accounts by experts, saying permitting the outside assistance would sabotage the scrutiny process. Issuing its order on a complaint in the PTI foreign funding case on April 14, the ECP had allowed the petitioner Akbar S Babar and the PTI to peruse all documents with the ssistance of two financial experts/ chartered accountants in eight days, under the supervision of the ECP officials. In the media, it was reported that the PTI had welcomed the order, and that the complaint by the petitioner had been rejected by the ECP in its order. The operative part of the order stated that “the scrutiny committee is granted eight regular working days to both the parties from 10am to 3pm to inspect/ peruse the records/ documents, submitted by both parties and that both sides are allowed to take help of two technical persons (chartered accountants/ financial analysts/ financial experts) for perusal of records/ documents, submitted by both parties”.

Likewise, the ECP order had also directed “both parties to give names of their two technical persons to the Commission within five days, who will attend the scrutiny committee”.

However, on Monday, the petitioner and the PTI founding member Babar and his legal team, consisting of Syed Ahmad Hassan Shah and Badar Iqbal Chaudhery, arrived along with two financial experts, whose names had been nominated in writing before the ECP. The PTI team, including Syed Khawar Shah, presented an application for partial review of the ECP order.

The PTI claimed in the application that “allowing assistance of financial experts during the scrutiny process shall amount to sabotage of whole process” and it also questioned the order that it consented with the proposal of associating chartered accountant or financial expert during the scrutiny process.

The scrutiny committee could not meet formally as the DG Law, who heads the committee, was out of town to condole the death of spouse of the Commission’s Member from KP Justice (retd) Irshad Qaiser.

Ahmad Hassan Shah, meanwhile, requested one member of the scrutiny committee that they must proceed with the scrutiny process without any further delay and, as directed by the ECP in its order of April 14, agree on eight-day schedule to peruse all PTI accounts. He said, “We have complied with the ECP directions and submitted the names of two auditors and we expect the committee not to delay the process at PTI’s behest.” However, no further progress was made.

Later, talking to the media outside the ECP, the petitioner staid that never in the history of any judicial process, the respondent had decided to challenge an order that it had publicly claimed a victory of its stand and rejection of the petitioner’s application to end secrecy of the PTI accounts.

He said the PTI at the time, along with some segments of the media, had claimed that Babar’s application for ending secrecy had been rejected whereas in reality the ECP had proposed a way forward for the scrutiny after consulting legal counsel of both parties.

Babar urged the ECP and the scrutiny committee to proceed with the scrutiny process without further delay and finalise an eight-day schedule for its nominated chartered accountants to peruse all PTI accounts and record before the scrutiny committee. He said the PTI must not be allowed to use any more delaying tactics and come clean with its record for scrutiny as directed by the ECP.