Prohibited but not foreign: ECP rebrands funding case on PTI request

ISLAMABAD: The chief election commissioner on Wednesday directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to not list a 2014 funding case against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) as “foreign funding” in the future after he accepted the party’s position that the matter instead involved finances secured from “prohibited” sources.

The petitioner, Akbar S. Babar, a founding member of the party, claimed in his petition the PTI received $7.3 million in funding from foreign donors, including those from India and offshore companies.

He has accused party chairman Imran Khan of submitting fake certificates to the commission.

During the proceedings on Wednesday, Anwar Mansoor Khan, counsel for PTI, concluded his arguments in favour of the party. A three-member panel of the commission headed by CEC Sikandar Sultan Raja resumed the hearing.

Barrister Khan rejected a report of the scrutiny committee on the accounts of the party. “The cause list of the Election Commission of Pakistan has mentioned ‘foreign funding’,” he complained.

At this, the CEC directed the officials to avoid employing the term in future. “Your client is also using the same words in the press,” Raja said.

“We are saying from day one that it’s related to prohibited funding, not foreign funding,” Khan said. “You are correct, this is the reason instructions were issued,” Raja responded.

Khan further argued that ”not the Election Act, 2017, but the Political Parties Order, 2002, will be the relevant law to deal with the case.”

“Foreign governments, multi-national and local companies come under the PPO,” he said.

“Election Act, 2017, prohibits getting funds from anyone except Pakistan nationals,” the lawyer said. “The 2002 law will be applicable to all cases prior to 2017. Non-resident nationals in India have not been eligible to donate any political party,” he further argued.

“Indian law not allows dual nationality but in Pakistan it is legally permissible,” he said. “The law is also clear with regard to a foreign-funded party,” a counsel for Babar said.

“Only federation has the authority to act against a foreign-funded party and not the election commission,” Khan said.

“The scrutiny committee was briefed about all details and our stance over it,” Khan said. “A scrutiny committee could only depend on the procedure described in the law. The committee declared, it will only accept that which meets its standards,” he said.

“PTI didn’t accept prohibited funding in its accounts and returned it to the account, which sent the amount,” the counsel for PTI said.

“The India and we have different laws with regard to prohibited funding. We accepted the amount, which was lawful and returned the unlawful money,” he argued.

“Do you have documentary evidence of sending back that money,” a member of the panel questioned. “Yes, definitely, I will submit documents,” Khan said.

“There is a law but the scrutiny committee collected papers from outside, it said we will move forward in accordance with the Indian law, which is different from our law,” he said.

“The scrutiny committee wrote that our evidence is insufficient. It rejected the information provided by me and Akbar S. Babar. It said that your list is not trustworthy.”

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