ISLAMABAD - The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) yesterday accepted opposition parties’ demand of day-to-day hearing of the foreign funding case against the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).

The decision came after opposition’s Rehbar Committee on Wednesday last had submitted an application, asking the ECP to decide the case before expiry of the chief election commissioner’s term next month.

In this regard, the commission asked the committee to carry out scrutiny in the foreign funding case on daily basis.

Talking to The Nation, an official in ECP said that commission had directed the scrutiny committee to scrutinise the foreign funding case against the ruling party on day-to-day basis.

Sources in the ECP said the decision regarding daily scrutiny of the case was taken after opposition’s demand. 

Meanwhile, talking to The Nation, Akbar S Babar said that they had constantly been requesting the Scrutiny Committee to hold case hearing on daily basis for disposal of the case as early as possible.

Commission asks committee to carry out scrutiny on daily basis

He stated that it was not the time of investigation, but the time to announce decision as they had provided all evidence regarding operators of these accounts and money trail to the ECP. He said Prime Minister Imran Khan was using delaying tactics in order to escape accountability.

Lashing out at the PM, he said those who claimed to establish Riyasat-e-Madina-like state were not even ready to face accountability in the foreign funding case. He said the October 10 decision of the commission was historic.

On the other hand, the ECP has started investigations into foreign funding case against PPP and PML-N.

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

Farrukh Habib of ruling PTI had filed a petition in the commission against the two parties, accusing them of receiving illegal funds from the US and the UK.

He said the commission should summon record of all the parties; saying that all the parties should be treated equally.

“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 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.

Commenting on the issue, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) senior leader Ahsan Iqbal said that his party had no such account or assets which were concealed from the ECP during declaration of assets.

The 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 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 four applications filed by PTI requesting secrecy during the investigation.

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Wednesday had 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 challenging ECP’s October 10 decision in which it rejected party’s applications against audit of its foreign funds. The PTI had requested the court to restrain the ECP scrutiny committee from probing party’s foreign funding.