CEC hopeful of early verdict on PTI foreign funding case

ISLAMABAD – The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is serious on the scrutiny process of the foreign funding case against the ruling party and is committed to announce the verdict of the case with no further delay.

A senior official on condition of anonymity told The Nation that the incumbent Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Raja Sikandar Sultan was hopeful to announce verdict of the case on merit with no further delay.

The official further said that ECP had mandated the scrutiny committee to finalise scrutiny of the case as soon as possible. However, as per the directives of the ECP, the Scrutiny Committee held consecutive three days internal meetings in order to submit the final report with no further delay.

The official further said that last day the counsel of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) reached on time for meeting with the committee, but the counsels of main petitioner Akbar S Baber could not reach on time due to their engagement in high courts.

It is important to mention here that ECP many times has shown its reservations over the slow process of the scrutiny and in its last meeting held on January 6, the Commission had asked the scrutiny committee to meet thrice a weak to expedite the process of scrutiny. The Committee in its response had informed the Commission that the scrutiny process was slow due to frequent absence of the lawyers of both the parties as they were busy in high courts. When contacted for his comments the petitioner Akbar S Baber said that his counsels had always attended meetings of the committee and termed these tactics to further delay the scrutiny process.

The commission back in August 2020 had rejected the report submitted by the committee and had termed it neither completed nor well detailed.

On the other hand sources within the Scrutiny Committee revealed that in Wednesday’s meeting, the petitioner’s lawyer, Syed Ahmad Hassan Shah assisted by Badar Iqbal Chaudhry protested to the continued refusal of the Committee to share PTI financial documents with the petitioner which included the 23 PTI bank statements received on SBP instructions that were mostly concealed from the ECP.

The source said that the chairman of the Committee also acknowledged that the PTI bank statements and other documents are not being shared with the petitioner on the concerns of PTI. To which the petitioner Akbar S Babar complained that how can there be an independent and transparent scrutiny and investigations when those being investigated were managing the process.

Talking to media after meeting the committee, the petitioner and PTI founding member Akbar S. Babar said the reason for delay despite over 80 meetings of the Committee is simple; when those who are under investigation influence the investigation process, how can there be progress?

To substantiate, he said the Committee refused to share PTI bank statements and other record with the petitioner “as the respondent (PTI) seriously opposes it.” Even an auditor was replaced on documented PTI pressure, he added. Babar said the Committee can meet forever but unless it proactively investigates the evidence, the scrutiny process will remain inconclusive and without credibility.

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