The foreign funding case against the ruling party is being termed a test for the current Election Commission of Pakistan.
The case was filed by Akbar S Babar, one of the founding members of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in November 2014.
Babar filed the case with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on November 14, 2014, and alleged that the PTI received funds from foreign companies and foreign nationals through undeclared accounts. This foreign-funding case is very serious and if found guilty, PTI and Imran Khan could both be banned from politics for life.
The petitioner demanded that the ECP start an investigation of all those responsible for that in PTI, from the chairperson to others, in accordance with the law for gross violations of political funding laws.
ECP declared PTI audit reports lacks details
After a long period in April 2015, the ECP passed an order explicitly stating that PTI’s annual audit reports submitted before the ECP did not include details and sources of funds, which are requirements under the law.
According to the constitution of Pakistan, political parties are prohibited from taking donations from foreign-registered companies and non-Pakistani citizens.
PTI’s response and legal approaches
On October 8, 2015, the ECP rejected PTI’s petition challenging its jurisdiction to scrutinize PTI’s accounts. On November 26, 2015, the PTI filed a writ petition in the Islamabad High Court (IHC), challenging ECP’s jurisdiction and locus of the petitioner Babar.
On February 17, 2017, the case was remanded back to the ECP, after a delay of a year and a half, to re-ascertain ECP’s jurisdiction and PTI’s membership of petitioner Babar.
On May 8, 2017, the ECP again asserted its jurisdiction over the case and stated that there was not an iota of evidence that Babar has been expelled from the party.
ECP rejected PTI’s objections
On October 8, 2015, the ECP rejected PTI’s objections to maintainability and jurisdiction of the ECP to hear the case and demanded examination (scrutiny) of record on November 10, 2015. Between November 2014-to date, the PTI has filed several writ petitions in the IHC, challenging the ECP’s jurisdiction to scrutinize PTI’s accounts and PTI membership of Babar.
ECP rejected all PTI petitions
All PTI petitions have been rejected by the ECP and the IHC to stop or suspend ECP’s scrutiny of its accounts under one or another pretext. To date, the PTI has refused to comply with over 24 written ECP orders, demanding production of documents, including PTI’s bank statements of accounts maintained in Pakistan and abroad.
ECP wrote to the SBP to produce PTI’s financial records
On July 3, 2018, the ECP wrote to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP)to produce PTI’s financial records for the period 2009-13. The State Bank complied by writing letters to all scheduled bank presidents, demanding PTI bank statements to be submitted to the ECP by July 16, 2018.
The scrutiny stalled after the initial one of PTI’s bank statements revealed 23 bank accounts all over Pakistan operated by PTI leadership as against a total of eight declared ones before the ECP. The fake PTI accounts discovered contain billions of rupees of transactions in rupee and foreign currencies, all illegal.
Petitioner expressed his dissatisfaction
The petitioner of the foreign funding case and PTI founding member Akbar S Babar has repeatedly expressed his dissatisfaction with the pace of the ECP scrutiny. Even the ECP in its order of October 10, 2019, had directed the Scrutiny Committee to complete scrutiny expeditiously.
As late as January 24, 2020, Mr. Babar filed an application with the ECP seeking directions to the Scrutiny Committee “to hear on a daily basis and complete scrutiny of PTI foreign funding within a limited and fixed timeframe.”
PTI should clarify the allegations
Regarding the foreign funding case, PM Imran Khan has been bearing a big question mark on his forehead for long. He needs to justify and clear his position rather than beat about the bush. Khan has always been chanting slogans against corruption and in favour of transparency.
The case is also being termed a ticking time bomb for PTI. If found guilty, PTI and Imran Khan could both be banned from politics for life in the country.