PTI foreign funding case: ECP’s scrutiny body restarts probe

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ISLAMABAD: The scrutiny committee of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday started the investigations into PTI’s foreign funding case afresh after an initial report submitted by the panel on August 17 was rejected for being incomplete and not in detail.

It was rare that the scrutiny report was prepared after over 70 meetings and two and half years of the committee deliberations that was initially mandated to complete scrutiny in one month, according to a report published in The News Friday.

PTI foreign funding case is pending since November 2014, witnessing various hiccups. However, even today, it is hard to speculate as to when it will be decided, the publication reported.

Sources told the publication that in the meeting, the scrutiny committee restarted from scratches by seeking to verify the evidence submitted by the petitioner that includes evidence on illegal funding, money laundering, concealment of bank accounts, and receiving funds in private bank accounts of PTI employees.

On Monday, the ECP had rejected the report on PTI’s foreign funding accounts, terming it neither complete nor well detailed in all respect.

The commission had ordered the committee to conduct afresh the scrutiny and complete the process in six weeks.

The ECP in its order dated August 27, 2020, stated that “the Commission has thoroughly gone through it and came to the conclusion “that the Committee neither scrutinised the record nor evaluated the evidence from the documents”.

It goes without saying that the much-awaited order validates the concerns of the petitioner Akbar S Babar, expressed repeatedly regarding the transparency and credibility of the scrutiny process by the committee formed in March 2018 on the order of the commission.

The foreign funding case, filed by Babar, who remained a close confidante of PTI Chairman Imran Khan, way back in November 2014 and alleged financial irregularities in the party funding, which poured in from abroad.

The ECP, in its order, had reprimanded three-member committee by stating that “it was the duty and responsibility of the committee to scrutinise the authenticity and reliability and credibility of each and every document submitted by both parties and after proper scrutiny of documents”.

It is painful to say that directions were not followed in the strict sense despite lapse of more than 28/29 months, the order stated.

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