In a much-needed boost ahead of his appearance before the Panamagate joint investigation team (JIT), the election watchdog on Tuesday gave the beleaguered prime minister a clean chit after ‘verifying’ the statements of assets and liabilities he had submitted before it.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has, for the first time, started the process of verification of annual statements of assets and liabilities of all lawmakers for the financial year ending June 30, 2016.
The process was supposed to conclude by the end of the current month. But the newly-established political finance wing of the ECP is still stuck in its first phase of scrutinising assets of National Assembly members (MNAs), and has yet to get time to approach senators and members of provincial assemblies.
According to sources in the ECP, the relevant ECP wing had found ‘anomalies’ in the statements of most of the MNAs when compared with those related to the previous two fiscal years. This prompted the wing to write to all such MNAs, including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, to clarify their position.
“Around 50 per% of the MNAs we wrote to, seeking clarification over certain points, have been cleared … Prime Minister Sharif is among them,” an official of ECP.
The ruling party could use the ECP clean chit to its advantage at a time when the Prime Minister’s family was facing a probe into its offshore assets, he added.
Cases of some 30% MNAs are in different stages of verification, he said, adding that an interesting development in this regard is that the rest of the 20% the ECP wrote to, either did not bother to respond at all or did not continue any commutation after an initial response.
Interestingly, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan’s case falls among those MNAs who declined to reply to the ECP letter, officials disclosed, requesting not to be named.
They said all members of the national and provincial assemblies are bound under Section 42A (1) of the Representation of Peoples Act, 1975, (ROPA) to submit their own statements of assets and liabilities along with those of their spouses and dependents to the ECP by September 30 of each year.