Panel investigating 2018 Senate poll scam makes no progress

Published February 22, 2021
Imran Khan expelled 20 MPAs from the PTI two years ago and removed another legislator this month shortly after the video was leaked in the media. — APP/File
Imran Khan expelled 20 MPAs from the PTI two years ago and removed another legislator this month shortly after the video was leaked in the media. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: A three-member ministerial committee formed to investigate the 2018 Senate election video leak has so far not made any breakthrough even though the prime minister reportedly saw the clip two years ago.

The committee is scheduled to hold its second meeting on Wednesday. Its first meeting took place on Feb 12.

The prime minister had formed the committee comprising federal Minster for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry, federal Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari and Adviser to the Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar.

Imran Khan expelled 20 MPAs from the PTI two years ago and removed another legislator this month shortly after the video was leaked in the media.

The committee will hold its second meeting on Wednesday

Some senior leaders of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) have claimed that the house shown in the video is located in Islamabad and it is not the residence of the Speaker of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly.

They said a ‘billionaire’ was involved in purchasing votes of 21 PTI members of the KP Assembly in 2018 and he was again active in this dirty business for the Senate polls to be held on March 3.

When contacted, Fawad Chaudhry said the committee would meet on Wednesday. “Let us see what happens.”

He agreed that nothing has so far come before the committee regarding who had bought loyalties of PTI MPAs.

When asked if he knew the location of the house in the federal capital where the deal was struck as claimed by some PTI leaders, including Speaker of the National Assembly Asad Qaisar, the minister expressed ignorance.

Mr Chaudhry said the committee would decide about scope of its work, the terms of reference and to fix criminal liability of the persons involved in the scam.

He said the committee could seek assistance of the Federal Investigation Agency and police to ascertain the identity of the buyers and sellers of votes.

The minister categorically rubbished the opposition’s claim that Defence Minister Pervez Khattak and Speaker Asad Qaisar were involved in the scam and said: “We should not give importance to the false claims of the opposition.”

He said the PTI had already removed 21 MPAs from the party for allegedly receiving money to sell their loyalties and now the committee would expose the faces who had purchased them.

The committee has been tasked to ascertain the facts about the scam and submit its recommendations to the prime minister in one month.

Shahzad Akbar had already said that apparently co-chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Asif Ali Zardari was behind the scam.

But PPP leader Farhatullah Babar rejected the allegation and said two MPAs had claimed that Pervez Khattak and Asad Qaisar had purchased the loyalty of legislators of their own party so that they could not vote in favour of other parties.

He said it had been experienced in the past that sometimes MPAs were purchased so that they remained loyal to their party.

Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2021

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