The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has granted another two more weeks to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to submit its response in the prohibited funding case – the 'last chance' to explain its position over the funds it received from foreign donors.
A four-member bench headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja took up the case on Tuesday.
Senior lawyer Shah Khawar – who was absent during the last hearing due to engagements in the superior courts – explained that since he had been tied up all this time, the party was unable to retrieve relevant information demanded by the commission.
He said that the party has sought information about donors from its foreign chapters and will be able to submit its response once it succeeded in doing so. "We have to receive some information from the party s foreign chapter. We want to give you proper documents,” he said and requested two more weeks.
The National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistanis (NICOP) and other documents of Pakistani donors were being sought for submitting a comprehensive reply, he said.
At this, the member of the ECP from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) asked Khawar how long the prohibited funding case had been going on for. To which, the PTI counsel replied that it had been going on for eight years, prompting the member to quip whether the party wanted to drag it for another eight years.
At this, the CEC said that the party should be mindful that it was being given two more weeks for the last time. He asked PTI to submit replies so that the arguments can be started in the next hearing.
On August 2, the ECP finally announced the long-awaited verdict in the Prohibited Funding Case (formerly known as Foreign Funding Case), issuing PTI a show-cause notice for explaining its position over receiving prohibited funds.
“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.
However, the commission came under massive criticism from the PTI and the public over alleged discrepancies in the verdict. Scores of overseas Pakistanis appeared on electronic and social media to lambaste the electoral body for naming them as foreign donors.
The ECP’s order also contained details of funds received by the PTI from some 34 foreign nationals and 351 foreign-based companies but the funding record provided by ECP in the verdict was strongly disputed by the overseas Pakistanis with several companies that were shown as foreign donor entities were found to be belonging to overseas Pakistanis.