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ISLAMABAD: Scrutiny committee hearing foreign funding case Tuesday submitted a report to Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) wherein it accused Akbar Sher Babar, the petitioner against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in the case, of repeatedly filing 'frivolous petitions' causing delay in the conclusion of the case proceedings.

A three-member ECP bench headed by member (Punjab) former Justice Altaf Ibrahim Qureshi resumed hearing on Babar's petition challenging scrutiny committee's decision to keep financial record of PTI's 23 bank accounts in foreign funding case classified.

At the hearing, the scrutiny committee submitted its reply, on behalf of its chairman and director general (Law) at ECP Muhammad Arshad, who was not present at the proceedings, regarding Babar's petition.

In the reply submitted to ECP regarding the petition, the ECP categorically held Akbar Babar responsible for delay in the conclusion of case proceedings.

Qureshi, the ECP bench head, endorsed the scrutiny committee's viewpoint. "If every transaction is challenged, how will his case ever conclude?" he asked.

The case was adjourned till April 6.

The scrutiny committee has issued notices to Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People's Party (PPP) for foreign funding case hearing on April 1.

"Akbar S Babar is PML-N's paid petitioner. His bubble is busted and he stands badly exposed today," PTI MNA Farrukh Habib told the media outside ECP after the case hearing. "Akbar Babar is filing frivolous petitions to drag this case long because he gets 'easy load' from Maryam Safdar for this case. He knows that if this case ends, he would stop getting easy load from Maryam Safdar which he gets before every hearing," Farrukh said.

"We have submitted the record of all 40,000 PTI overseas donors to the ECP. We did not gather funds by kickbacks and bribes like PML-N, Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz did. PTI is the first political party that gave the concept of political funds-foreign remittances up to $ 22 billon would arrive this year," he said.

Speaking to media, Babar said, "We have not yet read scrutiny committee's reply... This is the first case in the world in which the entire record is hidden from petitioner."

In previous hearing of the case on March 22, the head of scrutiny committee told ECP that this case "would never end if it keeps taking new turns."

The chairman scrutiny committee, in previous hearing, strongly defended his decision to keep the details of 23 bank accounts of PTI classified by not sharing them with the petitioner. The chairman said he is legally empowered to do so as head of the scrutiny committee and that he is not answerable in this regard. The relevant record of PTI finances cannot be shared with Babar, he said adding that the onus of responsibility to prove allegations levelled against the respondents was on the petitioner.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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