The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has been given a further two weeks by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to file its response in the illegal funding issue. This is the ‘final chance’ for the PTI to defend the monies it got from foreign donors.
On Tuesday, the case was taken up by a four-member panel presided over by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja.
Senior attorney Shah Khawar, who was missing from the last hearing because of commitments in the superior courts, indicated that because of his commitments over the course of that time, the party was unable to obtain the pertinent information that the commission had requested.
He stated that the party had asked its international branches for information regarding donors and would be able to submit a response once it had been successful. “The party’s international chapter needs to provide us with some information. He said, “We want to offer you good documentation, so please give us two more weeks.”
He explained that in order to provide a thorough response, the National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistanis (NICOP) and other documentation from Pakistani contributors were required.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) member of the ECP then inquired of Khawar how long the case involving the illegal funding had been ongoing. The member joked whether the party planned to stretch it out for another eight years when the PTI counsel retorted that it had been going on for eight years.
The CEC then warned the party that this was the final time it would be given two further weeks. In order to begin the arguments at the upcoming hearing, he requested PTI to submit responses.
The Forbidden Funding Case (formerly known as the Foreign Funding Case) decision was ultimately made public by the ECP on August 2, and PTI was given a show-cause notice to defend its usage of prohibited monies.
“Hence, the commission directs that a notice may be issued to the respondent party in terms of Rule 6 of PPR (Political Parties Rules) 2002 as to why the aforementioned prohibited funds may not be confiscated. The office is also directed to initiate any other action under the law, in the light of this order of the commission, including forwarding the case to the federal government,” the ECP stated in its 70-page order.
The PTI and the general public, however, severely criticised the commission for what they claimed were inconsistencies in the findings. Numerous Pakistanis living abroad took to social media and electronic platforms to criticise the electoral authority for listing them as foreign donors.
The ECP’s order also included information about the funds that the PTI had received from 351 foreign-based companies and 34 foreign nationals, but the overseas Pakistanis strongly disputed the ECP’s funding record, and several companies that were listed as foreign donor entities turned out to be owned by overseas Pakistanis.