The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought response of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s counsel by Thursday (today) over a probe into foreign funding to his client through a commission under the Chief Election Commissioner.
A three-judge bench led by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar resumed the hearing of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) petition which has sought disqualification of the Chairman PTI Imran Khan and Secretary General Jahangir Tareen for purported non-disclosure of their assets and offshore companies as well as prohibited sources of funding to the party.
Commencing his arguments on behalf of the PTI chairman, Advocate Anwar Mansoor Khan contended that foreign funding is an issue of the past, saying a closed transaction can not be reopened. He pleaded that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had not raised any objection to the audit report submitted by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in 2010, adding that after accepting PTI’s audit report the ECP had allotted the party its electoral symbol.
However, the court was not satisfied with the contentions of the PTI’s counsel about party’s foreign funding as Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar asked the PTI counsel if the court issues directives to the ECP for investigating the foreign funding matter or if the court asks the Chief Election Commissioner to appoint a Commission under his chair to probe the issue and submit a report before the apex court then what would be the response of the learned counsel for the PTI.?
During the course of proceedings, a Justice Umar Ata Bandial said while addressing Anwar Mansoor Khan as to whether a political party could disown its past and whether the same argument should be applied on the national exchequer. Submitting his formulations in the matter, Anwar Mansoor Khan questioned the maintainability of the petition in hand under Article 184(3) of the Constitution. Mansoor said that the petition cannot be maintained on two grounds; one, that the petitioner was a contesting candidate against Imran Khan; and secondly the petitioner did not file any objection and not did he or challenge his client’s nomination papers.
He was of the view that the petition in hand was filed for malafide reasons whereas neither any fundamental right of the petitioner has been breached nor is there any question of public importance.
Mansoor raised a question as to whether contribution or donation from abroad makes the PTI a foreign-aided political party under the Political Order 2003. He also contended when the accounts, as required by Article 13 of the Political Parties Order 2003, were filed by PTI, no objection was raised by the Election Commission of Pakistan as it allotted an election symbol to the party.
Anwar Mansoor apprised the bench that Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) had also appointed a foreign agent to gather foreign funds, adding that even that Pakistani embassy collected funds for the PPP during the previous regime. Citing Sections 1, 2 and 3 of Article 6 of Political Parties Order, 2002 Anwar Mansoor pleaded that these provisions allow parties to accept donations from members and supporters, and prohibit them only from accepting funds from foreign governments.
He pleaded that the ECP reviews account details in keeping with the law when the same are submitted before the Commission, adding that in case if there is an issue of funds, collections from dual nationals, those accounts were given to the ECP and the Commission gazetted those accounts.
Meanwhile, Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar reprimanded PML-N leader Daniyal Aziz for his media talk through which he alleged that the apex court was discriminating against the ruling party. “What discriminatory attitude is being done by the apex court? Where is Danyal Aziz?” Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar asked soon after the bench reassembled after break.
During the break, PML-N leader Daniyal Aziz said while talking to media outside the Supreme Court that Supreme Court was showing discrimination against the ruling party.
Hanif Abbasi came to the rostrum along with Daniyal Aziz to respond to Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar’s query about discrimination. Daniyal Aziz just named the Election Commission, to which Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar interrupted him observing, “Don’t malign the court, it’s your institution and you are required to further strengthen it, we cannot tolerate this and have not yet barred the comments being given by the politicians on court’s hearings.” Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar warned that in future if PML-N leaders continue to pass such statements, the court will completely ban their media talks over case proceedings. To which Daniyal Aziz tendered an apology before the court. Later, hearing of matter was adjourned till May 11 (today).-Business Recorder