The Scrutiny Committee of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has directed former ruling party Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) to submit details of funding it received from overseas Pakistanis after the PML-N on Tuesday failed to provide any financial trail of donations received from Pakistanis abroad and sought more time to provide the required financial trail in the foreign funding case.
The three-member Scrutiny Committee headed by ECP's Director General (Law) Muhammad Arshad as its chairman, and DG (Audit) Defense Services Masood Akhtar Sherwani and Controller Accounts Air Force Muhammad Faheem as its members resumed the hearing of foreign funding case on Tuesday and reviewed the reply submitted by PML-N last week in which the former ruling party denied having received any kind of foreign funding.
The Scrutiny Committee termed the PML-N's reply as unsatisfactory and inquired why the PML-N has failed to provide the relevant details of the donations it received from overseas Pakistanis, which cannot be categorised as foreign funding, Business Recorder has learnt.
In response, the PML-N sought more time claiming that it is willing to provide the Scrutiny Committee all the relevant details of its overseas donors including their bank accounts and identity card numbers but needs more time for this purpose, a PML-N source privy to the matter said. The Scrutiny Committee directed the PML-N to furnish the required documentary evidence latest by coming Wednesday (December 11), it is learnt.
Last week, PML-N and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) denied having owned any foreign company or asset abroad, in their respective replies submitted to the Scrutiny Committee. The Committee had sent a questionnaire to both the parties containing queries about foreign funding.
An ECP source told Business Recorder that all the three parties; Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), PML-N and PPP, have admitted before the Scrutiny Committee that they receive funds from overseas Pakistanis, which, the source said, does not fall in the category of foreign funding. So far, the source said, only PTI has submitted before the Scrutiny Committee the details of donations from overseas Pakistanis including LCC (life cycle costing) account, the names, addresses, computerised national identity card numbers and contact numbers of the overseas donors, the details of related bank transactions, relevant bank statements, and receipts of relevant financial activities. The Scrutiny Committee is still awaiting relevant details from PPP and PML-N, the source said.
The ECP on November 21 decided to accept the request of opposition parties to conduct on daily basis the hearings of the foreign funding case related to 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 PPP should also be heard by the ECP. The ECP accepted this demand and also commenced proceedings of foreign funding case related to PML-N and PPP from November 26.
The source said that PML-N and PPP had strongly stressed on the ECP to resume proceedings of foreign funding case related to PTI but the two opposition parties are not happy with the ECP's decision to also hear foreign funding case related to PML-N and PPP.
On June 15 this year, the ECP issued notices to all three major political parties, PTI, PML-N and PPP, to appear before the Scrutiny Committee on June 20. The notices were issued respectively on the petition of Farrukh Habib against PML-N and PPP and Akbar Babar's related petition against PTI. However, there was no headway in this regard and the matter remained pending.
Shah Khawar is PTI's counsel in the case whereas Ahmad Hassan represents Akbar Babar. The PML-N is represented by Jahangir Jadoon and PPP is represented by Shehbaz Khosa.
Though Babar has requested the Commission to expedite the hearing of foreign funding case and issue verdict accordingly, keeping in view that Chief Election Commissioner Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza (retd) is retiring on coming December 6, it is unlikely that the case proceedings would conclude by the CEC's retirement.