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ISLAMABAD: The scrutiny committee probing the finances of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in the prohibited funding case is facing serious problems due to non-provision of the required data to the scrutiny panel by the two political parties, the electoral body was informed on Monday.

In the proceedings of the prohibited funding case related to PML-N and PPP, Chairman of Scrutiny committee and ECP’s Director General (Law) Muhammad Arshad appeared before the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to brief the ECP bench on progress regarding the probe in the case.

The proceedings were held in the absence of PTI’s Farrukh Habib, the petitioner in the case, who was not summoned to Monday’s hearing.

Habib expressed surprise over the electoral body’s decision to not summon him to the proceedings.

“It was a strange kind of hearing that was held in my absence despite that I am the main petitioner in the case— but was not summoned,” he told the media on Monday.

Five-member ECP bench led by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja and comprising Nisar Ahmed Durrani, Shah Muhammad Jatoi, Babar Hassan Bharwana and Justice Ikramullah Khan (retired) heard the case.

The scrutiny panel’s head informed the bench that the PML-N and the PPP received funding in different accounts but the related information was not being shared with the scrutiny committee.

The committee, he said, is facing problems in completing the probe.

He said the panel needs more time to investigate the matter thoroughly.

The CEC remarked that the ECP wanted this probe to be completed “at the earliest” and any further delay in this regard was “not acceptable.”

The bench directed the scrutiny panel’s chief to submit an interim report that should also include the details of the problems the panel was facing.

The ECP issued prohibited funding case verdict related to the PTI on August 23 this year but the prohibited funding cases related to the PPP and the PML-N are still pending— since 2017. The verdict related to the PTI prohibited funding case was reserved in June this year.

In March this year, the ECP reconstituted the scrutiny committee to investigate the finances of the PML-N and the PPP in the prohibited funding case, formerly known as the foreign funding case.

The reconstituted four-member committee is led by Muhammad Arshad and comprises ECP Director General Political Finance Masood Akhtar Sherwanee, Additional Secretary Administration ECP Manzoor Akhtar Malik, and Khurram Raza Qureshi from Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP).

Sherwanee also belonged to the AGP and was part of the three-member scrutiny committee that probed the finances of the PTI and submitted a report to the ECP in the prohibited funding case.

That committee was also led by Arshad and had Controller Accounts Air Force Muhammad Faheem as its member but it became dysfunctional following Sherwanee’s retirement from the AGP. Since January this year, Sherwaneeis part of the electoral body as DG Political Finance.

Meanwhile, the ECP bench reserved its verdict in another case related to the imposition of fine of 10,000 rupees on Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah for code of conduct violation during by-election on National Assembly’s seat NA-108 Faisalabad on October 16.

The interior minister informed the media after casting his vote in Faisalabad that he voted for PML-N’s Abid Sher Ali. This, according to the ECP, is tantamount to a breach of the secrecy of the ballot.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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