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ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday reserved its verdict till June 30 on the miscellaneous petitions filed by the ruling party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Akbar Sher Babar against one another in Foreign Funding Case while adjourning the case hearing till June 23. The Scrutiny Committee of the ECP hearing Foreign Funding Case met after two months and reviewed respective petitions filed by Akbar S Babar, the petitioner against PTI in Foreign Funding Case. Babar, in his petitions, had accused the PTI of adopting to intimidating tactics against him including threatening him allegedly for pursuing the Foreign Funding Case. He also requested the ECP to bring on record all the evidence submitted in the Foreign Funding Case.

On the other hand, PTI, in its petition, sought action against Babar for making public the details of the classified proceedings of Scrutiny Committee.

The three-member Scrutiny Committee, headed by ECP's Director General (Law) Muhammad Arshad as its Chairman and including DG (Audit) Defence Services Masood Akhtar Sherwani and Controller Accounts Air Force Muhammad Faheem as its Members, reviewed all the petitions and decided to merge them before sending them to the ECP while recommending appropriate action.

The ECP, after reviewing the applications, reserved its judgement till June 30. It also directed the Scrutiny Committee to expedite progress on Foreign Funding Case to take the case to its logical conclusion, and submit report to the Commission in a week. The ECP decided to review progress made in Foreign Funding Case on June 30.

Moreover, on a petition filed by Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal seeking to hold hearing of Foreign Funding Case on daily basis and making public all the documentary evidence submitted by the parties to the case, the Commission adjourned the hearing of the case till June 23.

Last week, the ECP had directed Iqbal to submit evidence in Foreign Funding Case on June 2.

"PML-N has no undeclared bank account while PTI has 23 undeclared bank accounts. That's why PTI is shying away from scrutiny," Iqbal told the media after Foreign Funding Case hearing on Monday.

The Scrutiny Committee of the ECP is hearing all important Foreign Funding Case involving the three mainstream political parties; the PTI, the PML-N and the Pakistan People's Party (PPP).

Akbar Babar in November 2014 had moved the ECP accusing the PTI of being a foreign funded party and seeking action against it in accordance with related constitutional provisions.

In March 2018, the ECP formed the Scrutiny Committee to scrutinise the funds of PTI and to submit its report in a month but the committee has not furnished its report. On October 1, the ECP reserved verdict on four pleas by the PTI which requested the commission to maintain 'secrecy' in the scrutiny of funding' details of the party in the case on the grounds that 'false' news was being leaked about the PTI funds, which, the ruling party said, was an attempt to malign it. On October 10, the ECP announced the reserved verdict and rejected the PTI pleas.

The ECP on November 21, 2019, had decided to accept the request of opposition parties to conduct on daily basis the hearings of the Foreign Funding Case related to the PTI and fixed November 26 as the date to commence proceedings of the case, after a gap of 20 months.

Before the November 26 hearing, the ECP last held the regular hearing of Foreign Funding Case in March 2018 when the scrutiny committee was formed to scrutinise the PTI funds.

The PTI also requested the ECP that the Foreign Funding Case related to the PML-N and the PPP should also be heard by the ECP.

The ECP accepted this demand and also commenced proceedings of Foreign Funding Case related to the PML-N and the PPP from November 26.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020