ISLAMABAD - Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday rejected the plea of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) to halt proceedings of foreign funding case till the Supreme Court’s decision on an identical case.

A five-member Commission headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice (Retd) Sardar Muhammad Raza which heard the case issued a short order and directed the PTI to provide details of party funding by September 7.

The Commission said this will be the last opportunity for PTI to submit details of party funding.

At the outset, PTI lawyers Anwar Mansoor in a new reply submitted to the Commission had asked the ECP to stop the proceedings in the foreign funding case as a similar case is also being heard at the Supreme Court against his client.

However, Ahmed Hassan, legal counsel of petitioner Akbar S Babar raised objections on the plea taken by the PTI lawyer Mansoor that new reply submitted by him did not contain details of the party funds.

Akbar S Babar had moved to the Election Commission of Pakistan in 2014 seeking disqualification of PTI Chairman Imran Khan on charges of collecting party funds from “prohibited” sources.

Interestingly, since then PTI has been delaying the process of providing details of the party funds either by submitting new replies through different lawyers or by questioning the powers of the Commission to scrutinise party funds.

When petitioner’s lawyer Ahmed Hassan pointed out that the details sought by the ECP were missing from the response, Mansoor told the court that the relevant documents had already been filed with the Supreme Court, adding the ECP is a party to the case that is going on in the apex court.

Mansoor told the ECP tribunal that the SC had not asked for the party’s entire funding history. “Perhaps there is an element of prejudice in some corner of the ECP ,” the lawyer alleged.

Dismissing his claims, the commissioner said that seeking details does not mean that prejudice exists. “As a party to the SC case, the ECP should not proceed with hearings on this case,” Mansoor maintained.

The commissioner told the lawyer that it would have been better if he approached the SC with a request to halt the ECP proceedings.

The petitioner’s lawyer, however, argued that the nature of the case being heard in the apex court was different from that of the ECP case.

Hassan added that if PTI submitted the details of its funds, it would become clear if the money was received from prohibited sources or not.

He asked the ECP not to hear PTI’s request, claiming that it was an attempt to avoid furnishing the financial details. “The PTI has been asked to submit the details by 21 times,” he said.

Earlier in May, the ECP had given the PTI another chance to produce its financial records in the foreign funding case despite issuing the same directives twice before.

On Dec 1 last year, the ECP had also ordered the PTI to submit its accounts or face ‘legal consequences’. Instead of complying with the orders, the party had accused the ECP of ‘political bias’ which led to a contempt application against Imran Khan filed by petitioner Akbar S. Babar.

The case was filed on Nov 14, 2014 by Babar, after he developed differences with the PTI chief over internal corruption and abuse of laws governing political funding.

The petitioner had alleged that nearly $3 million in illegal foreign funds were collected through two offshore companies, registered under Imran Khan’s signature, and that money was sent through illegal ‘hundi’ channels from the Middle East to accounts of PTI employees.

 He also alleged that the foreign accounts used to collect funds were concealed from the annual audit reports submitted to the ECP .

In April 2015, after scrutinising PTI’s annual audit reports, the ECP had ordered that the party had failed to disclose the sources and details of foreign funds received.

But instead of submitting the accounts, the PTI had challenged the ECP’s jurisdiction to scrutinise its accounts.

Last month, Islamabad High Court rejected PTI’s plea to prevent the ECP from hearing Babar’s petition, saying the case has been going on since 2014 and has already once been referred back to the ECP .

Later talking to media, the petitioner Akbar S Babar said that Imran Khan continues to run from accountability.

He said, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the PTI Chairman deactivated the process of accountability instead of eradicating corruption.

He said PTI Chief is pursuing the agenda of confrontation among state institutions for his vested interest.

Babar, after he developed differences with the PTI chief over internal corruption and abuse of laws governing political funding.

The petitioner had alleged that nearly $3 million in illegal foreign funds were collected through two offshore companies, registered under Imran Khan’s signature, and that money was sent through illegal ‘hundi’ channels from the Middle East to accounts of PTI employees.

 He also alleged that the foreign accounts used to collect funds were concealed from the annual audit reports submitted to the ECP .

In April 2015, after scrutinising PTI’s annual audit reports, the ECP had ordered that the party had failed to disclose the sources and details of foreign funds received.

But instead of submitting the accounts, the PTI had challenged the ECP’s jurisdiction to scrutinise its accounts.

Last month, Islamabad High Court rejected PTI’s plea to prevent the ECP from hearing Babar’s petition, saying the case has been going on since 2014 and has already once been referred back to the ECP .

Later talking to media, the petitioner Akbar S Babar said that Imran Khan continues to run from accountability.

He said, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the PTI Chairman deactivated the process of accountability instead of eradicating corruption.

He said PTI Chief is pursuing the agenda of confrontation among state institutions for his vested interest.