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Foreign funding case: PTI challenges ECP jurisdiction

Discussion in 'Pakistani Siasat' started by SBD-3, Apr 5, 2017.

  1. SBD-3

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    ISLAMABAD: Counsel for the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and former attorney general of Pakistan Anwar Mansur Khan finally appeared before the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday in the foreign funding case, but only to challenge the ECP’s jurisdiction to hear the matter.

    The PTI’s lawyer, who appeared before the ECP bench headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) retired Justice Sardar Mohammad Raza after seeking three consecutive adjournments on health grounds, gave exhaustive arguments and said the ECP could not act as a court of law nor could it exceed its mandated role under the Constitution which, according to him, was restricted to holding elections.

    The ECP during the last hearing on March 22 had expressed its annoyance over the PTI’s move of seeking adjournments and the CEC had warned the PTI’s junior counsel that they were adjourning the case for the last time and the party would have to come up with its response in the next hearing.

    Meanwhile, the PTI’s move to challenge the maintainability of the petition filed by a party dissident and one of the party’s founding member Akbar S. Babar provided an opportunity to the Pakistan Muslim League-N leaders to lambaste PTI chief Imran Khan for not presenting the details of his party’s funds before the ECP and thus running away from the accountability.

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    During the hearing, the PTI’s counsel stated that once the audit reports were filed and accepted by the commission, it did not have the right to re-open and examine them. He argued that even if the allegations were assumed to be correct, the ECP did not have the right to re-open the audit reports already accepted by it as it was a “past and closed transaction.” He questioned the locus standi of the petitioner to file the case “based on mala fide grounds”.

    Imran hiding behind the excuse of ‘maintainability’, says PML-N leader
    When the CEC inquired about the reasons for not filing any response to the contempt petition filed by Mr Babar against PTI chief Imran Khan for accusing the commission of political bias, the PTI lawyer said the response would be filed once the ECP jurisdiction was decided. Hearing this, the CEC responded that “it means you can abuse us and we do not have the right to even ask you why.”

    The petitioner’s lawyer, Syed Ahmed Hasan, argued that the case was well within the jurisdiction of the ECP under the Constitution and relevant laws. He said the PTI had not produced any document to prove that the petitioner was legally expelled from the party.

    Upon inquiry of the CEC, petitioner Akbar Babar stood up to explain the background of the conflict that started in August 2011 when he, in writing, complained to the PTI chairman about “the PTI central office being infested with corruption.” He also explained that on September 11, 2011, he had written a letter detailing all the corruption in PTI accounts including money received from illegal sources.

    The ECP adjourned the hearing till Tuesday morning.

    Later, talking to the media outside the ECP, Mr Babar blasted the PTI chief for allegedly spreading disinformation about the case. He said in a recent TV interview, Imran Khan had falsely claimed that the case was before the Islamabad High Court and that the ECP had already cleared the PTI accounts.

    Mr Babar, once a close confidant of Imran Khan, said the IHC had remanded the case back to the ECP to re-ascertain the jurisdiction issue as well as the locus standi of the petitioner. He reminded Mr Khan that the ECP in its order of April 1, 2015, had stated that the PTI audit reports submitted before the ECP did not contain source and details of foreign funds.

    Mr Babar said the PTI workers should revolt against a leadership that had turned the party into another party of the status quo.

    Mr Babar, who has recently formed a splinter group with the name PTI’s Founders Group, stated that Mr Khan had promised to turn the PTI into an institution by holding transparent intra-party elections, but now he had even betrayed this promise and turned the intra-party elections into another farce thus losing party’s election symbol.

    PML-N leaders
    Speaking at a news conference, Minister of State for Capital Administration and Development Tariq Fazal Chaudhry and PML-N MNA Daniyal Aziz alleged that the PTI chief was asking the prime minister to offer himself for accountability, but himself was running away from the same.

    Mr Aziz said the foreign funding case against the PTI had not been filed by the PML-N and it had been filed much earlier than surfacing of the Panama leaks issue. He said Mr Khan in the past had always criticised the ECP, but when the same commission gave a verdict in his favour in a disqualification case last month, the party celebrated the victory.

    Mr Aziz said Mr Khan was hiding behind the excuse of “maintainability” in the ECP despite his own claim that he would present himself for “search” (accountability).

    The PML-N leader claimed that the PTI chief had himself provided the details of the foreign funding to the US Law Justice Department and the document was still available on its website.

    Showing some documents, Mr Aziz claimed that the PTI in its audit report had itself admitted receiving foreign funds, even from India. He said under the law, a party receiving even a single dollar from a foreigner stood dissolved.

    PTI response
    Following the PML-N leaders’ news conference, PTI’s Information Secretary Naeemul Haq said the nation remembered as to who had received money from the ISI in the past to derail democracy in the country. He alleged that Nawaz Sharif had even received money from Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and availed every opportunity to damage democracy in the country.

    Meanwhile, a PTI spokesman said in a statement that the party was making preparations for holding party polls.

    Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2017
    https://www.dawn.com/news/1324720/foreign-funding-case-pti-challenges-ecp-jurisdiction
    https://www.samaa.tv/pakistan/2017/04/pti-challenges-ecp-jurisdiction-in-party-funding-case/
    http://pakobserver.net/pti-challenges-ecps-jurisdiction/

    PTI has been avoiding this case for long now, using tactics aimed at delaying the hearing and refusing to publish the financial accounts.
    https://www.dawn.com/news/1308850
    https://tribune.com.pk/story/1297411/pti-tenders-apology-ecp-warning/