PTI MPs’ video probe to focus on beneficiaries

Published February 14, 2021
Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry (R) is a member of the three-member ministerial committee. — APP/File
Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry (R) is a member of the three-member ministerial committee. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: The three-member ministerial committee constituted by Prime Minister Imran Khan to probe the leaked video showing then Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly members allegedly receiving money to sell their votes during the 2018 Senate elections has vowed to find out the “beneficiaries” of the purchased votes and suggest criminal action against those involved in the scam.

Talking to Dawn after attending the first meeting of the committee here on Saturday, federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry said the committee wanted to ascertain two things — who provided those funds and who were the beneficiaries in the 2018 Senate polls.

The minister said the committee wanted to submit a comprehensive report to the PM containing suggestions to remove the “menace of corruption” from the Senate poll process and ascertaining as to what criminal action should be taken against those seen in the video and involved in the scam.

He said the committee would hold its meetings twice a week.

The minister had earlier said the committee could seek the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and police assistance to find out buyers and sellers of votes.

Ministerial committee to meet twice a week, decides to suggest criminal action against those involved in scam

Besides Mr Chaudhry, the committee comprises federal Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari and Adviser to the PM on Accountability and Interior Shahzad Akbar.

According to a brief handout issued by the Press Information Department (PID), the committee has also decided to invite the journalist who had “actually released” the video and “exposed the scam”. Sources said the committee was informed the leaked video was first run by senior TV anchor Arshad Sharif of ARY News, from where it was picked up by other TV channels and the social media team of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).

The committee has also sought help and input from any other person having firsthand knowledge or information about the scam, asking them “to share it with the committee either in writing or in person”.

The PID handout said the committee recognised the undermining of democracy by vote purchasing, especially in Senate elections which had been regularly subjected to this malpractice.

The committee members decided to make the office of the human rights minister as secretariat of the committee and decided the procedure to be followed.

The video of PTI lawmakers allegedly receiving bribes before the Senate elections in 2018 had surfaced on the social media amid the ongoing debate in the country on the issue of open and identifiable ballots in the Senate elections, scheduled to be held on March 3.

In the video, stacks of currency notes, can be seen piled up on a table in front of PTI MPAs. Following the release of the video, KP Minister for Law, Parliamentary Affairs and Human Rights Sultan Mohammad Khan, one of the characters in the video, sent his resignation to Chief Minister Mahmood Khan as he was asked to do so.

Soon after the release of the video, Mr Khan tweeted: “The videos showing the shameful way in which politicians buy & sell votes in Senate reflects the total destruction of the nation’s morality by successive ruling elites as they drowned the nation in debt. Cycle of corruption & money laundering is a sordid tale of our political elite.”

In another tweet, the PM said: “They spend money to come to power and then use this political power to make money to purchase bureaucrats, media and other decision-makers to consolidate their power and rob nation’s wealth — money laundering it into offshore assets/foreign assets/palatial residences abroad.”

“This is what the PDM cabal wants to protect by supporting a corruption-friendly system. We are determined to stop this cycle of corruption and money laundering that is debilitating the nation,” wrote the PM.

Published in Dawn, February 14th, 2021

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