Thursday Jan 14, 2021
ISLAMABAD: If any funds were collected illegally, the responsibility lies with agents, the PTI said in its latest written response to the Election Commission of Pakistan’s scrutiny committee in the foreign funding case.
The ECP had recently expressed concern over the delay in scrutiny of the funding-related documents and directed the committee to expedite its work and hold meetings thrice in a week and finish the task as early as possible, which was underway since March 2018, The News reported Thursday.
“Any contribution that has been collected by the agent which may be questionable would be beyond the scope of the work/responsibilities/instructions, given by the principal (respondent)…the principal admits only the receipts of funds and its detail, which have been transferred from the agent (PTI-USA LLC 5975/6160) and received by the principal…,” the PTI's written response says.
Sources said that the petitioner's lawyer Syed Ahmad Hassan Shah, assisted by Badar Iqbal Chaudhry, protested at the continued refusal of the committee to share the PTI financial documents with the petitioner.
Shah contended by refusing to share the documents, the committee was in violation of ECP Order, issued on May 30, 2018 that rejected the PTI plea of keeping these documents and the scrutiny process secret.
The lawyer emphasised that they were participating in the committee proceedings under protest as denying access to PTI bank statements and other documents was a violation of law and due process.
To this, the chairman of the committee acknowledged that the PTI bank statements and other documents were not being shared with the petitioner on the concerns of the PTI.
Akbar S Babar, a founding member of the PTI, had filed a case against the Imran Khan-led party in November 2014 claiming in his petition that there were massive financial irregularities in handling of foreign funding to the tune of nearly $3 million.
Following the petition, the PTI challenged the ECP orders in the IHC in 2017.
In the same year, the IHC sent back the case to the electoral body to review its jurisdiction once again. In the case, the high court had also declared Babar as member of the ruling PTI.
Later on May 8, 2017, an ECP bench stated that the body had complete jurisdiction over the case.
In March 2018, a scrutiny committee was formed to look into PTI's foreign funding accounts to determine if there was any wrongdoing.
The PTI at multiple times has sought secrecy in the scrutiny and had also approached the ECP, in this regard. However, in October, 2019, the ECP turned down the party's request.
The PTI chief at multiple times has accused the ECP for working for the interests of the opposition in the case.