Pakistan EC issues notice to PM Imran Khan's party in foreign funding case
Islamabad, Mar 17: Pakistan's election commission has sent notices to Prime Minister Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party and its own scrutiny committee to appear before it on March 22 to explain their stance over keeping secret the party's foreign funding documents, according to a media report on Wednesday.
The notices follow a complaint by Akbar S Babar, a dissident founding member of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) against the scrutiny committee's decision to keep the party's documents secret.
A three-member Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) bench headed by Justice (retd) Irshad Qaiser heard the complaint, Geo News reported. The notices were issued before the ECP decided on the secrecy of scrutiny in the PTI's foreign funding case.
Babar's lawyer, Ahmad Hassan Shah, challenged the scrutiny committee's decision to keep PTI's accounts secret. He invoked the Right to Information Act to seek access to the documents, the report said.
The lawyer argued that access to PTI documents is a right of the petitioner under relevant laws. By keeping the documents secret, the ECP scrutiny committee is violating the terms of reference of the scrutiny that clearly demands scrutiny in the presence of both parties, the petitioner's lawyer said.
He said the scrutiny process would be a "sham" and "mere attempt to rubber-stamp fake documents".
The lawyer said a secrecy order of the committee is illegal. Later, talking to the reporters outside the Election Commission of Pakistan, while referring to the government demand for the Election Commission to resign, the petitioner, Babar, alleged that Prime Minister Khan feared that if the details of the concealed bank accounts come into the light, it can reveal billions of rupees of illegal funding to the concealed PTI accounts.
“This could open Pandora's box leading to charges of money laundering, corruption, and concealment of accounts against Prime Minister Imran Khan and others as they operated these accounts,” he said.
Babar had filed the foreign funding case before the ECP in 2014 after he developed differences with Khan over internal corruption and abuse of laws governing political funding.
The petitioner had alleged that nearly USD 3 million in illegal foreign funds were collected through two offshore companies, registered under Imran’s signature, and that money was sent through illegal channels from the Middle East to accounts of PTI employees.
He also alleged that the foreign accounts used to collect funds were concealed from the annual audit reports submitted to the ECP. In March 2018, a scrutiny committee was formed to look into PTI foreign funding accounts.