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Islamabad: A division bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has suspended the single bench’s order in which the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was directed to decide the foreign funding case against former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) within 30 days.

A two-member bench comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Babar Sattar, while hearing the PTI’s appeal against the April 1 order, ruled that “operation of the direction given by the learned single judge in chambers to conclude the pending matter within 30 days is hereby suspended”.

ECP asked not to single out PTI

The court also asked the ECP not to single out the PTI adding, “The Election Commission of Pakistan will ensure that an uneven playing field is not created by treating the political parties differently.”

The IHC also asked the commission to scrutinise the funds of all political parties likewise.

“We expect the Election Commission of Pakistan to proceed with the scrutiny process by treating all political parties equally and in accordance with law,” the order stated.

Earlier, Shah Khawar Advocate counsel for the petitioner PTI Secretary General Asad Umar argued that the PTI had not been treated fairly and that it had been singled out. He contended that the Political Parties Order 2002, read with Article 17(3) of the Constitution, indicated that all political parties were to be treated equally and fairly.

He stressed that the ECP was a creation of the Constitution and therefore its proceedings were to be regulated without interference by the court.

Single bench used ‘harsh language’ against PTI

Shah Khawar argued that the single bench had used harsh language and phrases such as “face the music” in his order. He said such observations were not warranted as the “judge was not mandated to use such harsh language to the utter disadvantage of the appellant.”

“Technically, this case doesn’t even fall under foreign funding. It falls under prohibited funding,” he contended.