Thursday September 21, 2023

Agent responsible for prohibited funding: PTI

The PTI's counsel said the ECP has nothing to do with foreign funding but with prohibited funding while the CEC said the scrutiny of political financing is ECP’s important task

May 11, 2022
The ECP building in Islamabad. Photo: The News/File
The ECP building in Islamabad. Photo: The News/File

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Tuesday resumed its final arguments in the foreign funding case before the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

This was the third day of PTI counsel’s arguments limited to the legal aspects of the case. He maintained that the ECP has nothing to do with foreign funding but with prohibited funding. The PTI counsel insisted that the ECP treat all parties equally.

To this, the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) said the scrutiny of political financing is ECP’s important task. He noted that commission’s Political Financing Section has been augmented recently to fulfill its constitutional responsibilities.

He said the ECP has scrutinised accounts of over one hundred political parties and that questions regarding financing of 17 political parties are being processed.PTI counsel Anwar Mansoor Khan read out the US Foreign Registration Act that demands registration of agents designated to collect donations by foreign political parties in the US.

He said the funding collected in the US is according to the US law, and if any prohibited funding is received, the responsibility rests with the agent.

He admitted that the companies registered abroadhad funded the PTI. However, he claimed that the maximum action the ECP can take is to confiscate prohibited funding and nothing more.

The PTI counsel contended that the ECP’s job is to look into prohibited funding, not the foreign funding.To this, an ECP member said the Political Parties Order 2002 states that the receipt of funds from any foreign nationals puts the party in question. The PTI lawyer said he would address this issue later.

The last hearing of the foreign funding case was held on April 27 when the PTI refused to continue arguments. It had pleaded that Islamabad High Court’s April 25 order of suspending the 30-day deadline directive to the ECP to decide the case also meant that all foreign funding cases should be clubbed together and decided simultaneously.

The plea, however, was rejected by the ECP following which the PTI sought more time to argue further.Meanwhile, the Election Commission of Pakistan has rejected the PTI plea for suspension of membership of PTI’s 25 lawmakers, saying the decision will first be made on the admissibility of the application. A three-member ECP bench heard the case.

PTI lawyers presented the material from PTI leaders Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Asad Omar and Aamir Dogar as well as an affidavit against the dissident members of the National Assembly.

During the hearing of the reference, PTI counsel Faisal Chaudhry was asked to submit additional materials before the bench. They maintained that they have to keep the contents before the Election Commission Tribunal and also to get confirmation of the testimony and look into the material, which was also sent to the party chairman prior to the reference. Therefore, they sought to submit more written material.

At one point, while hearing the matter relating to PTI MPAs, the PTI lawyers requested the ECP to suspend 25 members.The CEC said a decision cannot be made by raising voice, adding that first a decision about the admissibility of the application would be taken.

Faisal Chaudhry said the case relating to the dissident members is of just 26 minutes, and urged the ECP to announce decision on the MPAs as he would take an hour to give arguments and present evidence. The hearing was then adjourned till May 13.

In a media chat outside the ECP, the petitioner and PTI founding member Akbar S Babar castigated PTI Chairman Imran Khan over his recent statements, and alleged that his statements are tantamount to undermining the constitutional institutions, including the judiciary, the Election Commission of Pakistan and the establishment.

He cautioned that pitching the people of Pakistan against the army is the greatest conspiracy against the nation and it only serves the interests of enemies, adding that Imran Khan’s demand for the resignation of the CEC, who is hearing a case in which he (Imran Khan) is an accused, is an instance of pure fascism.

On the foreign conspiracy, he contended that the real conspiracy is to illegally fund a political party to gain power, allow it to ruin the state institutions and the economy, and pitch people against institutions.

He said Pakistan cannot be made hostage to the unending demands of Imran Khan. He said that if his demand for fresh elections is acceded to, he will demand a new ECP of his choice followed by electoral results of his liking. “And, if he is not satisfied with election results, he will demand yet another fresh election while Pakistan’s economy cannot afford continuing political strife,” he argued.

Babar said growing fascism is the biggest challenge confronting the society today. He said the consequences of political strife lead to economic collapse and civil strife as events in Sri Lanka clearly demonstrate.“Pakistan has to decide either to remain hostage to fascists and anarchists or apply the full force of law to crush them,” he added.