• Assures legislators of development activities
• Minister says PTI’s victory will end opposition’s politics
ISLAMABAD: With the entire nation’s eyes fixed on the crucial Senate elections, Prime Minister Imran Khan had another busy day on Tuesday, meeting over 50 legislators in the Parliament House to drum up support for the government’s candidate from Islamabad, Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh.
Former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is contesting against Dr Shaikh as a joint candidate of the opposition’s Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM).
Government sources told Dawn that the prime minister gave assurances to the MNAs on initiating development activities in their constituencies.
Most lawmakers, however, told the prime minister that they had not come to present their demands before him but to reassure their support to the ruling alliance’s joint candidate from Islamabad.
Mr Khan did not attend the session of the National Assembly for the second day due to his meetings.
Interestingly, Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar remained present in all the meetings of the prime minister with the parliamentarians in order to hear the complaints of the MNAs from his province and take necessary action.
The MNAs, who met Mr Khan, included federal ministers Shafqat Mahmood, Asad Umar, Syed Aminul Haq and Pervez Khattak, Special Assistant Malik Mohammad Amir Dogar, Kanwal Shauzab, Raja Riaz Ahmed (NA-110), Raza Nasrullah Ghumman (NA-105), Khurram Shehzad (NA-107), Sardar Talib Hussain Nakai (NA-140), Rahat Amanullah Bhatti (NA-119), Malik Karamat Ali Khokhar (NA-135), Tahir Sadiq (NA-55), Mohammad Ibrahim Khan (NA-158), Haji Imtiaz Ahmed Chaudhry (NA-85), Syed Faizul Hassan (NA-70), Chaudhry Shaukat Ali Bhatti (NA-87), Syed Mubeen Ahmed (NA-175), Zahoor Hussain Qureshi (NA-152), Prince Mohammad Nawaz (NA-12), Sher Akbar Khan (NA-9), Nawabzada Shahzain Bugti (NA-259), Khalid Hussain Magsi (NA-260), Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui (NA-255), Sabir Hussain Qaimkhani (NA-226), Salahuddin (NA-227), Usama Qadri (NA-253), Iqbal Mohammad Ali (NA-240), Kishwar Zehra, Khawaja Sheraz Mehmood, Ahmed Hussain Dehr, Makhdoom Zain Hussain Qureshi, Khusro Bakhtiar, Chaudhry Farrukh Altaf, Mohammad Yaqoob Sheikh, Abdul Qadir Wattoo, Fida Hussain, Makhdoom Samiul Hassan, Riaz Fatiyana, Lal Chand, Shanila Ruth, Dr Ramesh Kumar, Jai Prakash, Jamshed Thomas, Sobia Kamal Khan, Sajida Begum, Nusrat Wahid, Salah Mohammad, Ali Khan Jadoon, Imran Khattak, Amir Hussain, Malik Imran Aslam Khan, Abdul Hameed Khan, Fauzia Behram and Ali Zaidi.
The National Assembly is the electoral college for the Senate seat from Islamabad.
According to a source, the prime minister would sit in his chamber in the Parliament House for some time after casting his vote.
Meanwhile, Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Hussain Chaudhry said victory of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) candidates — Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and Fauzia Arshad — in the polls on Wednesday would be the last nail in the coffin of the opposition’s dying politics.
Addressing a news conference, Mr Chaudhry said both candidates would easily win the elections.
The opposition has realised that Abdul Hafeez Shaikh will win and has therefore started looking towards Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, hoping that his followers, comprising seminary students, would rescue it, the minister said.
He said the opposition had failed to sell its political slogans and had again started talking about the long march, claiming that everyone knew what it had done to the country’s economy.
“The country had been bearing the debt burden of Rs6,000 billion from 1947 to 2006 which increased up to Rs30,000 billion from 2008 to 2018 during the decade of darkness,” he added.
The minister said the Senate polls would be a major contest before the country goes for the next general elections.
“We have some 181 members on our side and this number is expected to increase tomorrow (Wednesday). As many as 176 of the 181 members met the prime minister at the luncheon today,” he added.
The minister also asked the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to take notice of the brawl in the Sindh Assembly when a member tried to speak.
On the other hand, the commission on Tuesday announced that it would conduct the polls as per past practice of secret ballot.
The minister said the sanctity of the upper house would be trampled because of those who would be elected in the Senate on the basis of money.
He was of the view that the matter of bringing transparency in the Senate elections had been debated for the last many years with Prime Minister Imran Khan seeking polls through open ballot since 2013.
Senate elections are held in many countries through open ballot and even India and the United States have carried out reforms in this regard, he added.
Mr Chaudhry said Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan People’s Party had signed the Charter of Democracy in which holding of Senate elections through open balloting had been mentioned. However, now the immature leadership of both the parties has backtracked from its stance and opposing it, he added.
The minister also criticised Asif Ali Zardari who could not appear before the court due to illness but reached Lahore for Yousuf Raza Gilani’s campaign.
Published in Dawn, March 3rd, 2021