ECP reserves verdict in PTI's 'foreign funding' case

CEC Sikandar Sultan Raja conducted a hearing on the case at ECP, Islamabad

Nausheen Yusuf
PTI supporters wave flags at a rally. — Reuters/File
PTI supporters wave flags at a rally. — Reuters/File

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday reserved the verdict in the PTI "foreign funding" case.

CEC Sikandar Sultan Raja conducted a hearing on the case at the ECP office in Islamabad.

The verdict was reserved after the completion of a briefing by the financial expert brought by PTI founding member Akbar S Babar.

Babar has alleged major irregularities in the party's finances, including in funding from outside Pakistan.

ECP has now concluded the case after seven years of trial, which started in 2014, when Babar filed it. The date the verdict will be announced is yet to be revealed.

During the hearing, the financial expert maintained that audit principles and standards have been ignored in PTI's funds. He claimed that the donors were not third parties but companies created by the party leadership.

Meanwhile, Babar also came to the rostrum to give arguments.

"It is the first time in history that a political party is giving details for its funding sources to the ECP. Every political party should be answerable before the Commission," Babar said.

Meanwhile, CEC Sultan Raja thanked the parties for cooperating and providing details.

"We have to restore the voters' trust and strengthen the country democratically," he said.

He said that the cases of other parties will also be concluded soon and the Commission will ensure that there is no discrimination.

'Restoring voter confidence will bring positive change in politics'

Speaking to the media outside the ECP, Babar said that restoring the confidence of voters will bring a positive change in the country's politics.

Babar said that a verdict being reserved is a welcome development and that he hopes for success.

"I hope that the decision in this case will bring a revolution in the country," he added.

The former PTI leader said that the goal behind pursuing the case was to set an example for all political parties. "Imran Khan's cousin kept supporting us in the case while we faced pressure and restrictions," he said.

Babar went on to say that the former government ruined the country's economy.

"Imran Khan considers himself above accountability," he said.

Meanwhile, Babar's lawyer said that there was no personal interest vested in bringing a case against the PTI in the Election Commission. The aim was for detailed investigations to be conducted on the prohibited funding of political parties.

He said that 20,000 Australian dollars, 27,000 Euros, besides other large sums of money were transferred to PTI's accounts.

Farrukh Habib demands decision be made in open court

PTI leader Farrukh Habib said that the ECP acknowledged that this was a case of prohibited funding.

He said that the party has a record of 40,000 donors.

"All the records have been provided, now its up to the ECP to decide," Habib said. He said, however, that the ECP should have made the decision for all the parties together, as it is the ECP's responsibility to maintain a balance.

Habib said that the PTI has its reservations over the pending decision.

"The decision should be based on merit. We'll see when the decision comes," he added.

The politician said that the scrutiny of other political parties has been completed as per judicial orders therefore the case should be taken to the open court.

He said that restrictions cannot be imposed on any political party in a case of prohibited funding.

PTI hid funds worth millions from ECP: report

The PTI hid funds worth millions of rupees from the ECP, the report of an ECP scrutiny committee probing the party's funds had revealed on January 4.

The report stated that the PTI provided "false information" regarding the party's funding to the ECP. It said that the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP's) bank statement revealed that the party had received Rs1.64 billion in funding.

According to the report, the party did not disclose funding worth more than Rs310 million to the ECP.

The scrutiny committee was formed in 2019 to audit foreign funding received by the PTI.