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IHC suspends earlier orders to conclude foreign funding case in 30 days

Hearing an intra-court appeal, Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday ordered a halt to further proceedings and suspended its earlier order to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to decide the foreign funding case against Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf within 30 days. 

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Hearing an intra-court appeal, Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday ordered a halt to further proceedings and suspended its earlier order to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to decide the foreign funding case against Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf within 30 days. 

The single bench consisted of Chief Justice Islamabad High Court Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Babar Sattar. The bench was listening to the case in conjunction with a petition against the conduct of the election commission. Representing Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, the case was spearheaded by Advocate Shah Khawar.

During the hearing, the PTI counsel expressed reservations about several of Justice Kiyanis’s prior remarks. Referring to the earlier instruction of Justice Kiyani to the ECP to conclude the foreign funding case within 30 days, the counsel underlined that a single-judge bench did not have the authority to pass such an order. “Technically, this case doesn’t even fall under foreign funding. It falls under prohibited funding,” he contended.

To clarify, IHC, on April 14, ordered the ECP to decide the foreign funding case in thirty days. Shortly after, Asad Umar, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s secretary-general, filed an appeal against the order given by Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani. The appeal argued that the Election Commission was an independent body and had no supervisory jurisdiction over it. It further added that the IHC’s earlier orders amounted to “intruding into the ECP’s domain.” Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf also wanted the ECP to bar the petitioner Akbar S Babar from further proceedings. Prior to this, on March 15, the ECP dismissed two applications that sought the removal of the disgruntled member of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf. Commenting on the appeal, Justice Mohsin Kiyani termed the petition misconceived and non-maintainable. 

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It is pertinent to mention that the former ruling party also requested the ECP to share neither the requisitioned documents from the central bank nor the court’s proceedings with Akbar S Babar. 

The case has been pending since November 2014, when the disgruntled founding member of PTI came forth with allegations of serious financial irregularities in the party’s funding from abroad. Investigations have since been ongoing, and in a major development, the ECP’s scrutiny committee, after 95 hearings, submitted its report in January 2022. The report established that the party had committed gross violations of the conduct defined by the election commission and had received money from foreigners without investigating any source or detail of the foreigner. The report alleged that PTI had also received funding from Indian nationals.

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Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has called for countrywide mass demonstrations outside the offices of the ECP on the 26th. The party believes the Chief Election Commissioner to be a puppet and has repeatedly called for a “neutral umpire.”