Reference against CEC
THE Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) ruled that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf did receive millions of dollars of funds from 351 foreign companies and 34 foreign nationals, including US-Indian business women and ordered issuance of notice to the Chairman PTI seeking an explanation as to why the prohibited funds it received should not be forfeited.
As per judgment of ECP, the matter falls within the ambit of Article 17/3 of the Constitution of Pakistan, Article 6/3 and Article 2C of Political Parties Order 2002.
Hence, the Election Commission directs that a notice may be issued to the respondent party in terms of Rule 6 of Political Parties Order Rules 2002 as to why the aforementioned prohibited funds may not be confiscated.
The ECP is also directed to initiate any other action under the law, in the light of this order of the election commission, including forwarding the case to the federal government, stated that the verdict that is being interpreted by both the ruling side and the opposition to suit their narratives.
The PTI feels it vindicates its stance that it never received foreign funding, but could be a case of prohibited funding, while the government considers the decision a change sheet against crimes of the party and its Chairman Imran Khan.
The decision was announced by a three members ECP’s bench headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja in a case filed by PTI fundamental member Akbar S Babar that had been pending since November 14, 2014.
On the political front, the decision has given its arch rivals ammunition that may help them launch a vilification, campaign against the party, especially by putting the ball into the court of the federal government court.
The government can wait for a proper reference from the Election Commission of Pakistan or move or its own to declare the PTI a foreign aided party, if satisfied on the basis of available information on the decision.
For the time being the Election Commission that has show caused the party, will commence proceedings whether to impose the penalty of confiscating the funds, held to be declared as foreign funds.
There may not be any danger of the PTI being proscribed, but the offence could land its leadership into serious trouble.
Some legal experts point out that the verdict which reveals that not only did the party receive unauthorised foreign funding but also concealed the information, may be used to invoke Article 62 .1.F of the Constitution against Imran Khan.
It is for the first time in the Pakistani history that the Election Commission of Pakistan has indicated any political party for unauthorised funding.
Other parties have also accused of getting financial help from foreign sources but the charges have never been sustained.
It is important to note that the PTI has also not been charged for receiving funds from foreign powers that could have led to its prescription.
On the other hand, the PTI moved a reference before the Supreme Judicial Council against Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan Sikandar Sultan Raja, moved through Baber Awan, the reference pleaded with the Supreme Judicial Council to order removal of the CEC on account of the commission of continuous and deliberate misconduct.
The reference argued the CEC has violated the ECP code of conduct and failed to fulfil his constitutional obligations.
Between the lines I read PTI point of view through media it is my considered opinion that in reference there is no substantial material and reference will be rejected in early stage.
The ruling parties must take a pause before making a firm decision about where the political process will go after the PTI prohibited funding verdict.
—The writer is former Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan and currently Chairman National Democratic Foundation.