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ISLAMABAD: In an unexpected turn of events involving Foreign Funding case, the Scrutiny Committee probing the high-profile case “walked out” from its meeting on Wednesday after Akbar Sher Babar, the petitioner against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), voiced no-confidence in the committee.

The committee meeting ended abruptly following exchange of arguments between Babar and Scrutiny Committee members, Business Recorder has learnt.

“You don’t trust us so there is no point in our sitting here and hearing this case anymore,” sources in Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) quoted Director General (Law) at ECP and head of three-member Scrutiny Committee Muhammad Arshad as having told Babar before the committee walked out.

Just a day earlier on Tuesday, ECP dismissed PDM’s criticism on Foreign Funding case maintaining that it had made “significant” progress in the case.

But on Wednesday, sources said the committee decided to stop working and to submit its progress report in the case to the ECP.

Later, speaking to media, Babar confirmed that Scrutiny Committee meeting ended abruptly.

“We have voiced our concern over Scrutiny Committee’s style of working,” he said. Babar said he expressed no-confidence in the committee for not providing any details of the 23 “secret” bank accounts of PTI.

He accused the Scrutiny Committee of concealing the facts in the case to favour the ruling party. “I trust ECP but I don’t trust Scrutiny Committee,” he said.

Babar thanked Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) for highlighting Foreign Funding case.

Before its meeting ended, the Scrutiny Committee was scheduled to re-examine the record of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in Foreign Funding case. Last week, it re-examined the record of PTI.

An ECP source said PTI has submitted the record of 40,000 overseas donors in the Foreign Funding case including the names, addresses, computerised national identity card numbers, contact numbers, bank accounts numbers, details of related transactions of overseas donors, details of related bank transactions, bank statements, and receipts of relevant financial activities.

On the other hand, both PML-N and PPP have denied receiving any funding from abroad.

“PTI has an edge over the two opposition parties in the sense that it has already openly admitted having received funds from overseas Pakistanis and that these funds were not obtained from prohibited sources. On the contrary, both PML-N and PPP deny receiving any funds from their overseas supporters. This is something hard to believe. These two parties could be in trouble if proved wrong. This is probably the reason opposition leaders are not happy with proceedings of Foreign Funding case,” the source said.

On the sixth of this month, ECP expressed concern over slow pace of progress in Foreign Funding case and directed Scrutiny Committee to meet thrice a week to complete proceedings of the case but ECP again failed to give any deadline to the committee regarding the completion of its pending report on the case.

In the previous report that Scrutiny Committee submitted to ECP, responsibility was not fixed against anyone which was the major reason the electoral body rejected as incomplete this report on August 27 last year, it is learnt.

The ECP then directed the committee to start afresh its probe, fix responsibility in the case (if there is clear evidence) and submit the report on October 22, 2020, but Scrutiny Committee failed to meet this deadline. ECP has now asked the committee to submit its report “at the earliest” without giving any deadline.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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