ISLAMABAD - The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has started investigating Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in the foreign funding case.

A notice was sent by the commission to both parties on Wednesday. According to it, representatives of the two opposition parties have been directed to present themselves before the ECP scrutiny committee on November 26.

Farrukh Habib of ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) had filed a petition at the commission against the two parties, accusing them of receiving illegal funds from the US and the UK.

“The PPP and the PML-N should worry about accounting for the funds they received from the US and the UK,” said Habib. He said that both parties were not willing to discuss facts about their funding. He said that the PML-N had used party funds to launder money. “As the petitioner in this case, I will not let the PPP or the PML-N get away with it,” he said.

On the other hand, the opposition’s Rehbar Committee on Wednesday submitted a memorandum at the Election Commission, urging it to hear the foreign funding case against the ruling PTI on a daily basis. The memorandum was submitted by the members of Rehbar Committee after they held a meeting with ECP secretary here.

The meeting was attended by JUI-F leader Akram Durrani, PML-N Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal, PPP’s Farhatullah Babar and Nayyar Bukhari, ANP’s Mian Iftikhar Hussain, and PkMAP’s Usman Kakar.

After the meeting, Durrani told the media that they demanded hearing the PTI case on a daily basis to avoid further delay. He stated that all opposition parties have reservations over the undue delay in the case hearing. He said they were going to submit a written memorandum to the ECP signed by all Rehbar Committee parties.

Lashing out at the government, the JUI-F leader claimed that those who were talking about the establishment of Riyasat-e-Madinah were escaping the investigation and were not ready to be asked for foreign funding.

Nayyer Bukhari said that the case against the PTI was pending for the last five years as the ruling party’s lawyers were submitting new petitions regarding the case. He said that there were some 18 accounts which were not declared and disclosed by the ruling party. He hoped that the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) would dispose of this case before his retirement.

On the occasion, PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal claimed that the foreign funding case against the ruling party was the biggest corruption scandal in the politics of Pakistan. He said that it was the duty of the CEC to resolve the case during his tenure.

ANP leader Mian Ifthikar Hussain said if the decision in the foreign funding case was announced, neither the prime minister nor his cabinet would survive.

PTI founding member Akbar S Babar had filed the foreign funding case before the ECP in 2014 after he developed differences with PTI Chairman Imran Khan over alleged internal corruption and abuse of laws governing party funding.

For over a year, the proceedings of the case got delayed in the ECP as the PTI had filed a writ petition in the Islamabad High Court in October 2015, seeking to restrain ECP from scrutinising its accounts.

A scrutiny committee was constituted in March 2018 to complete the audit of PTI’s funding sources in one month. Later, its mandate was extended for an indefinite period. In October 2019, a three-member bench of ECP headed by Sardar Mohammad Raza rejected the four applications filed by PTI requesting secrecy during the investigation.

PTI’S APPEAL AGAINST ECP’S DECISION ADJOURNED

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Wednesday adjourned the hearing until the first week of December on PTI appeal against ECP’s decision in the foreign funding case.

Justice Mohsin Akhter Kiyani of IHC conducted the hearing on a petition filed by PTI regarding the matter. Petitioner’s lawyer Shah Khawar prayed the court to adjourn the case for a short time as senior lawyer representing the case was busy in Supreme Court.

The bench remarked that it couldn’t wait for long. The junior counsel then requested the court to adjourn hearing for some days. After this, the bench adjourned hearing of the case.

PTI on Nov 7 had filed the petition challenge the ECP’s October 10 decision in which it rejected the party’s applications against an audit of its foreign funds. The PTI had requested the court to restrain the ECP scrutiny committee from probing party’s foreign funding.