ECP panel places another bar on auditors in PTI funding case

ISLAMABAD: In a move likely to make the entire process involving the inspection of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) financial documents meaningless, the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) scrutiny committee on Wednesday barred the auditors from bringing printouts of the data they manually collected and uploaded on their computers after the ruling party objected to it.

The laborious manual perusal is painstakingly slow as the two financial analysts, Arsalan Vardag and Mohammad Sohaib, representing the petitioner in the foreign funding case and PTI’s founding member Akbar S. Babar, have to manually record data from volumes and volumes and subsequently upload it on their computers for analysis.

Mr Babar had protested the decisions of the scrutiny committee and the ECP not to allow the use of laptops during the perusal process and termed it illogical that further impeded the long-delayed scrutiny process.

According to sources, said the petitioner lamented that the scrutiny committee could not be allowed to make a farce of the perusal process by first refusing to allow laptops during perusal and now refusing printouts of the data collected manually.

Petitioner complains to CEC about impediments to scrutiny of accounts

He said there was little doubt that the process was being managed on PTI’s whims that made a sad reflection on the ECP affairs.

Before leaving office, the petitioner personally complained about the impediments to scrutiny process to the chief election commissioner who assured the former that his genuine grievances would be redressed.

Earlier in the day, the manual perusal of the PTI accounts continued for a third day, though the process started an hour behind the schedule.

The next meeting of the ECP scrutiny committee is scheduled for May 7.

Talking to reporters, Mr Babar said that out of the six admitted international bank accounts maintained by the PTI abroad, not a single bank statement had so far been presented for perusal.

The petitioner said the latest decision of the committee to refuse computer printouts of the data collected manually was “bizarre and unacceptable”.

He said refusing to probe the front accounts of PTI employees admittedly used for collecting donations from within Pakistan and abroad was primary evidence of the committee’s policy of “fact hiding instead of fact finding”.

Mr Babar said the government’s demand for electoral reforms was a mere smokescreen as under chairman Imran Khan’s watch, the PTI’s intraparty election was massively rigged in 2012-13.

Published in Dawn, May 6th, 2021

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