Tuesday, July 19, 2022
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday called upon the Election Commission of Pakistan to announce the "long-delayed" judgment on the PTI "foreign funding" case.
"For long has Imran Niazi been given a free pass despite his repeated and shameless attacks on state institutions. Impunity given to him has hurt the country," said the premier.
His message comes after a drubbing by the PTI on Sunday in the by-elections on 20 constituencies of Punjab.
PTI secured victory on 15 seats, whereas PML-N only came away with four, unofficial results showed.
The ECP reserved the verdict in case nearly a month ago, on June 21, following a hearing by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sultan Raja.
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 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.
PTI's Farrukh Habib defended his party's funding saying that there are 40,000 donors and that records for all of them have been provided.
"It is now up to the ECP to decide," Habib said at the time, calling for the decision to be based on merit.
He said that the ECP should have made the decision for all the parties together, as it is the ECP's responsibility to maintain a balance.
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.