The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday reserved its verdict in the long-pending “foreign funding” case of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), over seven years after it was filed by petitioner Akbar S. Babar. The ECP has not yet given any indication for when the verdict would be announced.
During today’s final hearing, a financial expert brought in by PTI founder Babar briefed the ECP on how audit principles and standards had been violated in the PTI’s record-keeping for its funds. He further alleged that the donors were not third parties, but rather companies created by the PTI’s leadership to hide the source of its funding.
Babar also addressed the ECP in a personal capacity, saying this was the first time any political party had provided details for its funding sources to the electoral body. “Every political party should be answerable before the commission,” he added.
Wrapping up proceedings, the CEC thanked all parties for cooperating and providing details. “We have to restore the voters’ trust and strengthen the country democratically,” he said, adding that the cases pending against other political parties would also conclude soon. He vowed that the ECP would ensure that there was no discrimination against any political group.
According to a report submitted by a scrutiny committee to the ECP earlier this year, the PTI hid funds worth millions of rupees from the electoral body. It alleged that the PTI had provided “false information” regarding its funding, adding that data from the State Bank of Pakistan had revealed the party had received Rs. 1.64 billion in funding and had not disclosed over Rs. 310 million.
The report went on allege that the PTI had only disclosed 12 out of 65 accounts registered with the SBP.
The long-pending case has seen over seven years of hearings, with the PTI’s political rivals accusing the ECP of delaying the proceedings to benefit the party. In response, the PTI has claimed that it is being discriminated against and the foreign funding cases of all parties should be decided simultaneously. The ECP has, meanwhile, maintained that the case against the PTI has been pending the longest, adding that a probe into the accounts of other major parties is ongoing and would be decided expeditiously.