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ISLAMABAD: Scrutiny Committee investigating the Foreign Funding case has submitted its progress report in the case, so far, to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) while further progress in the related proceedings is unlikely after one of the petitioners in the case voiced no-confidence in the committee last month.

On Tuesday, the commission reviewed progress in Foreign Funding case but failed to announce future course of action in the case.

Last week, the commission had issued a press release claiming that it will hold ‘important’ meetings on February 1 and February 2 to discuss roadmap for local government elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and to review progress in Foreign Funding case.

However, the ECP failed to arrive at any definite decision on both the matters; LG polls in Punjab and KP and Foreign Funding case. The ECP was expected to finalise a date for LG polls in both the provinces and announce further action in Foreign Funding case but it failed to do so. The proceedings of Foreign Funding case remained stalled since the 20th of last month when Akbar Sher Babar, the petitioner against the ruling party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in the case, voiced no-confidence in the Scrutiny Committee during a hearing of the case. Babar accused the Scrutiny Committee of concealing the facts to favour the ruling party. In protest, the chairman and members of the committee ‘walked out’ of the hearing which resulted in the meeting to end abruptly.

Speaking to media outside ECP, Babar said Tuesday that Scrutiny Committee should “give us in writing in its next meeting to hand over to us the documents (related to PTI)—if Scrutiny Committee wants to proceed ahead with the case fairly then we’ll support it and if the committee declines to do so then we’ll consider our legal options.”

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 was 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.

Regarding LG polls, Punjab government last month suggested to the ECP to hold LG polls in September this year. Few days later, the KP government also recommended to the commission to hold LG polls in September. A number of meetings on LG polls in the two provinces have been held but any date is yet to be finalised.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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