ECP reserves verdict in PTI prohibited funding case

ISLAMABAD – The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday reserved its verdict in the much-delayed Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) prohibited funding case — previously referred to as the foreign funding case as the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) said that the case was a matter of national interest.

A three-member bench of the ECP headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja heard the case. It was reserved after eight long years of hearings. Over 95 hearings of the case were held while the scrutiny committee held 96 sessions. However, the CEC, on the occasion, said that parties to the case could be summoned again if need arose.  The CEC said that some leading lawyers gave their arguments in the case. Last week, Raja had directed the ECP staff to list the foreign finding case against the PTI as “prohibited funding” from now onwards after accepting the party’s stance on the matter.

The CEC made it clear that the Election Commission was least bothered about the agitation the PTI had threatened with outside the ECP office. “And we will do justice in the case and make sure no wrong is done to any party,” he resolved.

Earlier, speaking before the ECP bench, Akbar S. Babar, the petitioner, said it was for the first time in the country’s history that any political party was giving details of the funds it had received from abroad. “As a matter of fact, each and every party should be answerable to the commission,” he stressed. In his remarks, the CEC said that now that the hearing of the PTI’s case was over, it was the ECP’s desire that other parties’ cases should also conclude.

| CEC says not bothered about PTI’s possible agitation and will do justice

Earlier, Arsalan Wardag, Akbar S. Babar’s financial expert, claimed that the PTI had failed to disclose sources of some of its offshore funds. “It is my request to the ECP to order the provision of the record of the party’s local bank accounts,” he added. Wardag alleged that the PTI had failed to satisfy the commission with respect to its 41 bank accounts. The financial expert also highlighted that the donor lists were missing several details. “The PTI received funds from 13 countries… There is no record of the Rs 20 million received at the PTI chairman’s office,” he said and added that 41 of the 50 banks did not respond to the scrutiny committee’s inquiries, pointing out the possibility of more accounts existing. He claimed that the donations were made from the PTI’s own companies instead of third-party companies.

Later, talking to the media outside the ECP office, the petitioner expressed optimism that his stance would eventually stand vindicated. The prohibited case against the PTI had been filed in the ECP in November 2014. The case was filed by party founding member Akbar S Babar, who is no longer associated with the PTI. He had alleged serious financial irregularities in the party’s funding from Pakistan and abroad. The PTI has denied any wrongdoing, and maintains the funding is not from prohibited sources.

Meanwhile, PTI’s Farrukh Habib called on the ECP to implement the directives issued by the Supreme Court and the Islamabad High Court. He also urged the commission to conclude the hearings regarding the PML-N and the PPP.

He also said that the party had provided all the records in the case, highlighting that all the money was received through banking channels.

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