Paying heed to ECP’s ‘final’ warning, PTI submits financial records of past 7 years

DAWN.com

After months of foot-dragging over the issue, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Monday finally submitted details of party accounts and foreign funding received in the last seven years to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

Unhappy with the constant defiance of its orders, the ECP had last week given PTI yet another final opportunity to submit financial documents and details of funds received from abroad, as well as the party’s accounts, by September 18 [today].

On Monday, the party submitted financial documents and details of funds received from abroad, as well as the party’s accounts of past seven years in five sealed volumes.

The PTI counsel once again urged the five-member ECP bench, headed by Chief Election Commissioner retired Justice Sardar Mohammad Raza, not to give details of party accounts to the petitioner, Akbar S. Babar — a former PTI member.

Hearing this, the chief commissioner remarked that according to a Lahore High Court ruling, the details of assets should be published online. He directed the PTI counsel to get the financial documents verified through concerned officials.

When the bench asked the counsel whether the financial records were the same as what the party had submitted in the Supreme Court, counsel Faisal Chauhdry said that there were additional documents as well.

The bench subsequently adjourned the hearing till October 16.

The ECP bench had made it clear during the hearing of the PTI foreign funding case that this was the last and final chance, failing which the commission would go ahead with ex-parte proceedings.

Prior to last week, the ECP had given numerous chances to PTI to submit financial details over the course of the hearings. On December 1 last year, the ECP had ordered the PTI to submit its accounts or face ‘legal consequences’. Instead of complying with the orders, the party had accused the ECP of ‘political bias’ which led to a contempt application against Imran Khan filed by petitioner Akbar S. Babar.

Long-drawn case

The case was filed on Nov 14, 2014 by Babar, after he developed differences with the PTI chief over internal corruption and abuse of laws governing political funding.

The petitioner had alleged that nearly $3 million in illegal foreign funds were collected through two offshore companies, registered under Imran Khan’s signature, and that money was sent through illegal ‘hundi’ channels from the Middle East to accounts of PTI employees. He also alleged that the foreign accounts used to collect funds were concealed from the annual audit reports submitted to the ECP.

In April 2015, after scrutinising PTI’s annual audit reports, the ECP had ordered that the party had failed to disclose the sources and details of foreign funds received.

But instead of submitting the accounts, the PTI had challenged the ECP’s jurisdiction to scrutinise its accounts.

In July, the Islamabad High Court rejected PTI’s plea to prevent the ECP from hearing Babar’s petition, saying that the case has been going on since 2014 and has already once been referred back to the ECP.

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