Electoral body directs scrutiny committee to provide its entire report to petitioner Akbar S. Babar
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday rejected a request from defendant Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to keep confidential some sections of a report submitted by the scrutiny committee formed to probe the foreign funding case.
“Nothing will be kept secret,” Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja said while chairing a three-member bench hearing the foreign funding case. In a written order, it emphasized that no document of the scrutiny committee’s report would be kept confidential.
In a posting on Twitter, petitioner Akbar S. Babar—a founding member of the PTI—hailed the development, adding that the ECP had not ended all secrecy in the PTI foreign funding case. “All documents, including ‘eight volumes’ of documents acquired through State Bank of Pakistan and kept secret to be shared with the petitioner,” he said, adding that hearings into the case would resume on Feb. 1.
The long-pending foreign funding case, lodged before the ECP in 2014, started to gain pace in 2019 after the electoral body formed a scrutiny committee to audit all funds received by the PTI. Despite claiming to be completely transparent about the sources of its funding, the PTI has repeatedly sought to delay proceedings, prompting opposition parties to question what it is trying to hide. The ruling party, however, maintains that the scrutiny committee’s report has validated its stance and has rubbished allegations of undeclared assets as a result of counting errors.
During Tuesday’s proceedings, PTI’s counsel Anwar Mansoor reiterated that the scrutiny report had “certain flaws” that needed to be amended. “If we have been at fault anywhere, we will admit it,” he claimed.
Addressing media after the hearing, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Farrukh Habib reiterated that the PTI was the “only” party to ensure transparency in its funds collection. Accusing petitioner Babar of being “on the payroll” of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), he noted that the scrutiny committee’s report had clarified that he could not provide any evidence proving his allegations against the PTI.
He said Babar, as well as opposition politicians such as PMLN Vice President Maryam Nawaz, should “apologize” for accusing the PTI of receiving funding from India and Israel. He also reiterated that it was now time for the ECP to examine the funding sources of all major political parties in Pakistan.