Islamabad - A three-member committee formed by the Election Commission of Pakistan to probe accounts and foreign funding of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf could not convene its maiden meeting on Monday due to the absence of two members.

On March 12, Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Sardar Raza Khan, heading a five-member bench, constituted the committee to probe the party accounts while announcing its decision on a petition filed by PTI disgruntled member Akbar S Babar in 2014.

The ECP committee headed by Director General (law) Muhammad Arshad failed to meet as per the schedule as two members of the body were not available.    

The committee has been tasked to probe PTI’s accounts and the seven-year funding record which the party had submitted before the ECP.

As per the ECP order, the committee will scrutinize all documents and evidence in the presence of the petitioner, the respondents and their lawyers, and will present a report on its findings within a month.

The committee was to start its work from March 19. Petitioner S Babar and a PTI representative showed up on Monday but returned after the body failed to take up the matter. 

Rumours were rife that the two members have recused from the committee without intimating the election commission.

On this, Babar remarked that the committee would be reconstituted on March 27. He sounded optimistic that the foreign funding case of the PTI will be taken to its logical conclusion. 

On the other hand, when contacted, the ECP spokesperson did not share details about the committee meeting and the rumours about the two members quitting the body.

He, however, responded that he would share details about the committee meeting today (Tuesday) saying since some staff members had gone to the Supreme Court in response to a case, it was not clear who was among them.

In November 2014, Babar had filed the petition after developing differences with the PTI chief Imran Khan on alleged internal party corruption and financial wrongdoings in managing the party funds.

Babar alleged the party was receiving funds through illegal channels, calling for an investigation into its financial records. He has also alleged that the foreign accounts used to collect funds were concealed from the annual audit reports submitted to the ECP.

The PTI avoided submitting the required documents for nearly two years for one reason or the other; first approaching the Supreme Court to challenge the ECP’s jurisdiction in the matter and later challenging the maintainability of the case before the high court.

After months of foot-dragging, on September 18 last year, the PTI finally submitted to the ECP account statements and documents detailing the funding it received from foreign sources over the past seven years.

At the previous hearing, PTI Central Finance Secretary Sardar Azhar said that his party neither has received foreign funding nor it has hidden anything in its accounts. He had held out categorical assurance to cooperate with the committee.