ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has served notices on all 19 parties in the Parliament in a case related to scrutiny of financial statements and funds and asked them to submit reply by February 24. A five-member bench, headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, on Wednesday issued the notices on a petition filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
On behalf of the PTI, counsel Shah Khawar appeared before the Election Commission. During the proceedings, the political finance wing submitted a report to the ECP regarding scrutiny of financial statements of all political parties serving in parliament. The election commission directed for a copy of the report to be provided to Khawar, asking him to review the report and file his objections, if any.
According to a member of the Election Commission, Irshad Qaiser, “the ECP is already investigating the funds of three political parties”. The anti-government alliance, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), also held a rally outside the ECP’s office on Tuesday last to press for its demand for an early outcome of the foreign funding case filed against the ruling PTI. Following the rally, the ECP spokesperson said that despite the coronavirus epidemic, lawyers’ engagements and the retirement of a member of the scrutiny committee, the “ECP has made significant progress in the foreign funding case”. “The ECP is committed to fulfilling its responsibilities without any pressure and is ready at all times to ensure free, fair and transparent elections,” the spokesperson claimed. In 2014, Akbar S Babar, founding member of the PTI, had filed a petition with the ECP, alleging irregularities in party funds. He said that besides receiving funds from overseas Pakistanis, the PTI had also received funds from foreigners, which was not allowed by the Pakistani law.
In his petition, he has stated that limited liability companies were set up in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and other countries to raise funds for the party from overseas Pakistanis living there, in which the proceeds came from illicit sources. The PTI claimed that the party did not receive funds from illicit sources as documents of all funds received from abroad are available. The PTI has approached the Islamabad High Court six times to stay the hearing of the petition in the ECP and has taken the position that the commission does not have the authority to examine the accounts of any party.The PTI also filed similar petitions against the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz in the ECP. A special scrutiny committee was set up to look into the matter.