SAHIWAL: Defending the ruling party’s move to hold the Senate elections through open ballot, Prime Minister Imran Khan has claimed that 20 members of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) were paid Rs50 million each during the last elections of the upper house of parliament to vote in favour of certain candidates.
Talking to media here on Friday, PM Khan said the parties opposing the amendment aimed at curbing corruption would stand exposed, adding that use of bribe to buy loyalties had been going on for the past 30 years. “Money goes to the very top,” he said, adding that he himself had been offered money in the Senate elections.
Mr Khan said the PTI had expelled 20 of its members after they were found guilty of taking Rs50m for horse-trading in the 2018 Senate polls by an investigation committee. “We also know who is raising money to buy loyalties this time,” he said, without naming anyone.
Accuses Nawaz, his family of backing Lahore’s top land grabbers
He termed the practice “betrayal” with Pakistan because the Senate had a particular “status and role” since it represented the provinces in the federation. He said it reflected poorly on the kind of people who came to the Senate through money and questioned the ability of such lawmakers to represent their respective provinces. “Apart from that, what kind of democracy is this where legislators sell their vote by taking money?” he asked.
Acknowledging that his government did not have a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly, Prime Minister Khan said it would still try to present the amendment for open ballot in the Senate elections in an effort to curb horse-trading.
During his media talk and address to a gathering at the Circuit House, the prime minister spent most of his time bashing the opposition over corruption. He accused former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family of backing Lahore’s top land grabbers. “How Maryam [Nawaz] visited the Khokhar Palace built on state land worth Rs1.3 billion?” he asked.
Terming JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman “an insult to Islamic scholars”, the prime minister said the Pakistan Democratic Movement president had used seminary funds to become a billionaire. He said the PDM was bound to fail as all the looters had got united in an attempt to blackmail him and they were only giving dates of departure of government to keep their parties intact.
About the foreign funding case, PM Khan said the opposition had fallen prey to the trap they had laid for the PTI. He said the PTI would come out clean as his party had already provided the Election Commission of Pakistan with data of some 40,000 accounts related to the party’s funding. He said all other political parties could not produce details of even 1,000 accounts related to their parties’ funding.
In reply to a question, the prime minister said the opposition would refuse to acknowledge any forum that gave a decision against them. “They had refused to acknowledge the NAB authority. In the past, they used to get decisions from the judges according to their liking,” he added.
Addressing the gathering earlier, PM Khan praised Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar for dismantling land mafia empires in Lahore and other places of the province. “People ask me where is the change? I tell them this is the change.”
Earlier upon his arrival in Sahiwal, the prime minister was received by CM Buzdar and Governor Chaudhry Sarwar. The prime minister did not move to any public place but stayed at the Circuit House. No local journalist was allowed to see him. The media talk he held was with those selected journalists brought from Lahore and Islamabad.
A local PTI worker was pushed out of the Circuit House by law enforcement agencies when he tried to raise the law and order issue. He later told the media that he wanted to inform the prime minister about the deteriorating law and order situation and kidnapping of Sahiwal Medical College professor Sajid Mustafa.
The prime minister was given a briefing on development projects. These projects include a 128-bed cardiology institute at DHQ Teaching Hospital, Rs118 billion worth of civic structure development, laying of an express highway to connect Sahiwal with motorway and distribution of Sehat Sahulat cards.
The chief minister said Sahiwal had strong potential of agro-based industry and his government was trying its best to use this potential for improving agricultural exports from Sahiwal division.
Published in Dawn, January 30th, 2021