ECP summons replies from PML-N, PPP over PTI’s foreign funding allegations

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  • PTI leader says Nawaz should not have been disqualified but rather put directly in jail

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday issued notices to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto and Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari to submit their replies in the foreign funding case.

A five-member bench headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice Sardar Raza is hearing petitions filed by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Habib, accusing the PML-N and the PPP of concealing their sources of funds and companies registered by them in the United Kingdom and the United States, respectively, and sought cancellation of election symbols allocated to them “for their failure to meet legal requirements for eligibility to obtain the symbols”.

The chief election commissioner said at the hearing that ECP has always had the authority to listen to cases regarding foreign funding.

He argued that all three heads of the parties submitted the audited funds without following the mandatory process of law, adding that PML-N maintains a limited company that is authorised to do all sort of business even with a foreign corporation, governments and individuals.

During the proceedings, Faisal Chaudhry appeared for the petitioner, Farrukh Habib, while Advocate Jahangir Jadoon will represent PML-N and PPP leader Latif Khosa decided to defend his party in the case.

Irshad Qaiser, a member of the bench, asked the PTI lawyer to explain whether complaints could be filed under section 15 of the Political Parties Order (PPO).

Meanwhile, the chief election commissioner said that ECP has always had the authority to listen to cases regarding foreign funding, issuing notices to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif from PML-N, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Asif Ali Zardari.

Replies from PPP and PML-N in the case have been sought by January 8.

‘OPEN AND SHUT CASE’: 

While speaking to the media, PTI leader Habib said notices have been sent to Bilawal, Zardari and Nawaz, and called it an “open and shut” case.

“Millions of rupees of funding were not disclosed by PML-N in their accounts,” further stating that it seems their accounts were audited by an unprofessional.
“Replies have been sought by ECP. Their real place is Adalia Jail. He [Nawaz] should not have been removed from the PM house but rather put directly in jail.”

Citing Supreme Court, Habib said all parties should be held accountable.

Last week, in its verdict on Hanif Abbasi’s petition accusing PTI of being a foreign-funded party, the Supreme Court had sent the matter to the ECP for investigation.

“The ECP must act transparently, fairly and justly, without discrimination among different political parties,” the chief justice had written in the judgement.

“For undertaking such scrutiny, it shall be reasonable for the ECP to examine the accounts of a political party within five years of the objected accounts of that party having been published in the official gazette.”

Following the decision, the ECP has begun hearing all illegal funding petitions filed with it. The PTI finance secretary is scheduled to appear before the commission on January 16, 2018, in connection with one such petition filed by PTI dissident Akbar S Babar.