ECP dismisses PTI's petition to combine all foreign funding cases

Mumtaz Alvi
Election Commission of Pakistan. — ECP website
Election Commission of Pakistan. — ECP website

  • ECP rejects PTI's plea to combine all foreign funding cases before deciding one related to PTI.
  • PTI counsel manages to get more time to present his arguments after Eidul Fitr.
  • Akbar S Babar says PTI is running away from justice and accountability, and system is allowing it to happen.

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday rejected PTI's plea to combine all foreign funding cases before deciding the one related to the PTI, The News reported. 

The announcement came from a three-member ECP bench during the hearing of PTI's foreign funding case, a day after the party held protests outside ECP's offices for its "biased attitude" towards the PTI.

The PTI counsel, however, managed to get an extension for presenting his arguments after Eidul Fitr. At the previous hearing on April 19, the counsel had sought three days, April 27, 28, and 29, to conclude his arguments.

Instead of continuing with his arguments, PTI lawyer Anwar Mansoor Khan read an Islamabad High Court (IHC) double bench order that suspended the 30-day limit set to decide the foreign funding case by an IHC single bench. 

The lawyer contended that the IHC bench had ordered that all cases of foreign funding must be heard simultaneously and, therefore, he refused to argue the case on Wednesday despite his commitment made on April 19.

To this, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja pointed out that the IHC double bench order had made no such determination, and that the PTI foreign funding case has already been delayed for almost eight years and now required an early conclusion.

At one stage, the CEC made it clear that his institution is not prepared at all to take any kind of pressure and that the foreign funding case would be decided purely on merit. He said injustice will not be meted out to any political party. 

“Neither there will be an injustice to any party nor will we take into account whether there are five or five lakh people present outside the Election Commission of Pakistan,” he remarked.

Raja explained that the scrutiny of 101 parties was conducted and contradictions were found in the accounts of 17 of them. The commission will present its detailed position before the IHC.

“Before the IHC order, we are already moving towards the conclusion of the case. The commission has to thrash out the procedure on its own. Do you think we should take dates for hearing from other courts?” he said, adding that hearings of other cases were in progress and a detailed progress report will be presented to the IHC on May 17.

Upon hearing the decision of the ECP to continue proceedings, the PTI lawyer again used the IHC double bench order of April 25 to renege on his own commitment of April 19 to conclude his arguments in three days starting from April 27. He said now that the IHC has suspended the 30-day limit, he can’t argue the case as he needs more time to prepare his arguments which can only happen after Eid.

To this, petitioner Akbar Sher Babar's lawyer, Syed Ahmad Hassan, objected to fresh attempts by the PTI to further delay the final arguments under the pretext of the IHC double bench order. He said that in this case, the petitioner is the aggrieved party for being denied fair treatment under one pretext or another and the PTI should not be allowed to misconstrue the IHC order. 

Hassan said the PTI has already abused the law to delay the case which the ECP order dated October 10, 2019, termed a “historic abuse of law”. He emphasised that the PTI should not be allowed to further abuse the law or misconstrue the latest IHC order to delay the case. The lawyer said the case has been delayed for nearly seven years and six months, 2,710 days, 65,040 hours, 180 hearings, and nine PTI writ petitions to delay or scuttle the case.

The ECP allowed more time to the PTI, this time under the pretext of Chief Justice Athar Minallah's order by rescheduling the hearing for May 10. Outside the ECP after the hearing, when a journalist asked Anwar Mansoor if the case will be delayed for another seven years, the counsel sat in his vehicle and drove away without replying to him.

Talking to the media outside the ECP, Akbar S Babar said that PTI is running away from justice and accountability, and the system is allowing it to happen. He said if at all anyone's rights have been trampled, it is the petitioner who for almost eight years been running from pillar to post to seek justice which is being denied to him. 

Babar condemned the PTI protests demanding the CEC's resignation and termed it tantamount to an accused demanding the resignation of a judge deciding his fate, which is the most blatant example of fascism. 

He said PTI Chairman Imran Khan should resign as he betrayed the founding ideals of the party and presided over one of the most corrupt governments in Pakistan’s history, according to Transparency International. He said the PTI will be refurbished and cleansed of the corrupt once its reigns are back in the hands of those who created it. He said Imran had the opportunity to reform the society, but he failed. 

“It is high time for him to fade away instead of fanning the fires of discord as he could not digest his removal from power,” he added.