ISLAMABAD - The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is most likely to announce its verdict in the prohibited funding case against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party on Tuesday (today).

According to the cause-list release by ECP for the prohibited funding, the verdict was reserved on June 21 and the verdict would be announced by a three-member bench led by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja.

The other members of the bench included Nisar Ahmed Durrani and Shah Muhammad Jatoi. The case was filed in 2014 by PTI’s founding member Akbar S Babar. Pressure by the ruling party and its allies was witnessed on the electoral watchdog after the Financial Times article on the PTI’s funding. The ruling clique in and outside the parliament demanded the ECP to announce a decision on the pending case. The decision on PTI’s foreign funding may further aggravate the situation in the political arena as guess work has started about imposition of heavy fines and banning the party for a certain period.

Talking to The Nation, petitioner in PTI’s foreign funding case Akbar S Babar said all the records/ witnesses regarding prohibited funding had been provided. “Hopefully, the decision will be (made) on the provided record,” he said. To a question about damaging effects on the PTI, he avoided to comment in detail and said that it was up to the electoral watchdog body ECP to decide.

Petitioner Akbar S Babar hopes decision will be made on provided record, witnesses

Former PTI’s member Akbar S Babar had filed the case in 2014, alleging that the party received foreign funding and the ECP, on June 21, reserved the verdict in the case.

Commenting on a possible scenario, Advocate Supreme Court Zahid F Ebrahim in a thread of tweets says, “If ECP makes reference that a political party received funds from foreign nationals it becomes foreign aided political party which is prohibited by law. Government on its own can also make such determination on basis of information received”.

“Next step is for Govt to make a declaration by formal notification that political party in question is Foreign Aided Political Party & within 15 days Govt must refer matter to Supreme Court for final decision,” he said in a second tweet said and commented in next tweet in a thread that If Supreme Court upholds Government notification then members of Foreign Aided Political Party who are members of Parliament get disqualified for the remainder of their term. “The leaders of the dissolved Foreign Aided Party can launch new party/register with ECP & contest elections. It is unclear as to what happens to party leader who gave incorrect declaration that part did not receive funds from foreign nationals,” viewed advocate Supreme Court in his tweet.

According to the media reports about the prohibited funding case the main opposition party allegedly not disclose funding worth more than Rs310 million to the ECP. The scrutiny committee was formed in 2019 to audit foreign funding received by the PTI.

Taking to his Twitter handle, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had also remarked the foreign funding case is an example of “how Ladla (blue-eyed boy) was being protected”.

The premier wrote: “[Nawaz Sharif] was convicted for not taking a salary, ‘Ladla’ is untouchable. Eight years on, the decision is still elusive.”

He further mentioned that in order to stop the foreign funding case, Khan filed nine writ petitions in the Islamabad High Court and got 50 adjournments.

Leaders of the ruling coalition from the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) in last week asked the Election Commission Pakistan (ECP) to announce its verdict reserved in the prohibited funding case involving the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

“The prohibited funding case has been ongoing for eight years.The election laws say that if a party takes money from a foreign individual, it has to be declared,” said former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in his press conference.