ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Wednesday adjourned the hearing of the foreign funding case against Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) until May 10 while approving the request of its counsel who sought additional time.
A three-member bench of the commission was hearing the case. The case was being heard on daily basis after an order by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) that the matter be decided within 30 days. But later on Monday, while accepting the PTI plea, the court suspended its earlier order to this effect and asked the agency to scrutinise other parties’ accounts as well.
At the outset of the hearing, PTI counsel Anwar Mansoor Khan read before the court the IHC order and beseeched it to put off the case for now and wait for the scrutiny report.
But the ECP member from Balochistan objected wondering where in the IHC order had been written that we should wait for the scrutiny committee report.
Khan objected that the case against the PTI foreign accounts was being heard on daily basis but other parties were given three months date. He rued that an application against the PML-N and PPP funding was submitted in 2017. The commission should have immediately sent the matter to the scrutiny committee five years ago, he added.
On this, Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja remarked that he (Khan) should not become sentimental. He said the commission held him in high esteem. He assured that all three cases were being heard simultaneously.
He asked the lawyer to give his arguments on his case while reiterating that no case was being stopped.
Khan excused the court from presenting his arguments insisting that the commission first brought other cases at par with the PTI case and demanded a level-playing field.
He complained that the PTI’s financial documents were provided to other parties but other parties’ financial documents were not given for perusal to his client.
The CEC said that he had ordered for the provision of other parties’ documents to his client. He said that Islamabad High Court had sent notice to the commission and the commission would submit its reply to the IHC.
After this, Akbar S. Babar’s lawyer started giving his arguments.
He said as the PTI contended that Akbar S Babar had nothing to do with its foreign funding case and he should be detached, in the same way, the PTI had nothing to do with other parties’ foreign funding case and it should not become inclusive in the scrutiny of other parties.
The lawyer said that Babar’s case had been pending since 2014. On this, Sindh ECP member said that the commission was fully aware of its mandate.
The election commissioner said three cases of foreign funding against PTI, PML-N and PPP were pending before the commission. He observed that the IHC had not stopped the commission to proceed on this case. He said the commission would carry on its proceedings on this case.
Khan pleaded that he wanted to give lengthy arguments in this case saying he needed time. He said he would complete his arguments in two weeks.
On this, the CEC remarked since we had waited 7-8 years, then the commission could wait for another few week.
Saying this, he adjourned the hearing till May 10.