Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday once again hit out at the opposition for opposing his proposal to hold next month's Senate elections through open ballot, saying the opposition was planning to "buy" PTI lawmakers to get more of its candidates elected to the upper house.
Addressing a ceremony for the launch of a tree plantation campaign near the Ghazi Barotha dam, located at the border of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab, the premier said the opposition's demand that the Senate election be held through secret ballot reflected the "destroyed morals" of a nation.
"A mandi (market) has been set up to buy politicians and rates have been set," the prime minister said of the upcoming polls. "This has gone on for 30 years; not all [politicians] get sold, but many do."
Editorial: Votes for sale?
He noted that there was a time when the opposition parties advocated for an open ballot in the Senate elections but were today calling for the use of secret ballot.
"What caused this change? Let me tell you. First their [power show] at Minar-i-Pakistan flopped, then they failed to blackmail us over FATF legislation, then they were thinking the government would fall due to corona but Allah blessed us; now they are planning to somehow bring more of their senators by buying our people," he said.
In a respectable society, Imran said, "no one would dare to support secret ballot when it is a known fact that bribes are given in the Senate elections".
"A senator who is elected after spending crores of rupees, will they come to serve the people? He will come to suck the nation's blood and make money," he added.
Prime Minister Imran said the nation stood at a "decisive" juncture, with the Pakistani people on one side and on the other "these dacoits and their mafia". "And victory will be of Pakistan," he added.
Speaking about how corruption permeated in the country, the prime minister said the rulers of the past three decades not only stole money but "they also destroyed our country's morals."
An environment was created where corruption became acceptable, Imran said, adding that there was not a single country that was prosperous despite having corruption.
"A country is destroyed when its prime minister and ministers start committing corruption," he said, emphasising that when a leader stole state funds while in office, they also had to launder them abroad to avoid being caught.
He said such actions caused a country to become desperate and reliant on loans and foreign aid. "A country which takes loans and asks for aid from other countries is never respected in the world," he stressed.
The prime minister said various members of the opposition were living abroad with many of their relatives and associates. Specifically pointing to PML-N leader Ishaq Dar, he asked where they got the money from to live such "opulent lives".
"They don't have a single piece of paper to tell us how this money went out [of Pakistan]."
'Trees are important for our future'
Prime Minister Imran announced in his address that one million trees would be planted in the area near Ghazi Barotha dam, while 10 sports grounds would also be built. He emphasised that planting trees was crucial for the future of Pakistan's youth to reverse the effects of climate change.
"Pakistan unfortunately is one of those 10 countries which will be the worst affected by climate change," he noted.
The premier said he wanted the youth to promise that they would protect the trees in return for the sports grounds. "Trees are important for our future and sports grounds are important for our youth's health," he added.
He also announced that the whole of Punjab will have universal health insurance by the end of the year.
Terming the demand for a technology zone in the area as "valid", Imran announced that one would be set up at Kamra. He said the upcoming age belonged to technology and it presented many job opportunities for Pakistan's young population.
Earlier, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam while addressing the ceremony announced the construction of a regional campus of the Allama Iqbal Open University and a mother-child hospital to facilitate the people of Attock. He thanked the prime minister for the provision of natural gas to 35 villages in the area per their first right of use as gas producers.
Meeting with farmers
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan in a conversation with local farmers heard their concerns and gave them various reassurances. He said notice would be taken immediately to resolve the issue of expensive counterfeit pesticides.
He also highlighted the discrepancy between the price at which farmers sold their crop and the prices in city markets, assuring the farmers that the government would work on eliminating the middlemen so more of the profits could go to the farmers. The premier also stated that the energy woes of the area would be resolved once a system for solar energy was set up.