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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Senate Elections: Is PDM trying to buy PTI’s lawmakers?

Prime Minister Imran Khan fears that lawmakers from his party are being 'bought' by the Opposition parties to rig the upcoming Senate election. Is it true? What options does the premier have to win the election?

Prime Minister Imran Khan said Friday there was a mandi (market) for the upcoming Senate elections and that the Opposition parties were trying to “buy” the ruling PTI’s lawmakers after all efforts of the anti-government coalition under the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) banner “failed”.

The market, PM Imran Khan said, has been “operating for the past 30 years”. He added that “prices were set to buy the politicians” ahead of the Senate elections.

The premier’s remarks came during the launching ceremony of a tree-planting campaign at the Ghazi-Barotha Hydropower Project site. “A country is destroyed if its prime minister and federal ministers start engaging in corruption,” he underscored, noting that the “robbers” who ruled Pakistan in the past “not only stole money, they also wiped out all morality”.

The premier said the government seeks open-ballot polls in the Senate but the Opposition is vehemently opposed to the idea and wants a secret ballot. “The corrupt elements wish to once again set up a market for the Senate elections,” PM Imran Khan said.

Read more: Pakistani Senate Elections: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly?

A video of PTI lawmakers allegedly receiving bribes before the Senate elections in 2018 has surfaced on social media amid the heated debate between the government and Opposition on the issue of balloting for this year’s Senate elections.

In the video, stacks of currency can be seen sitting atop a table in front of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa PTI MPAs. Sultan Mohammad Khan and MPA Ubaid Mayar can be seen in the video as well.

Former PPP MPA Mohammad Ali Bacha can be seen handing over the stacks to the PTI parliamentarians. PTI’s Sultan Mohammad Khan can be seen receiving money in the video and keeping it in a bag.

Sardar Idrees, another former MPA of the PTI, can also be seen taking money. Another former PTI MPA Meraj Humayun can be seen in the video, receiving the money and putting it in a bag as can another former MPA of the party, Dina Khan.

In 2018, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chief Imran Khan revealed the names of lawmakers who sold votes during the Senate elections and announced to expel them from the party. The PTI chief said that nobody took any action was not on the buying and selling of votes during the Senate election. Imran claimed that between 30-40 votes were sold in the Senate elections.

Nargis Ali, Dina Naz, Nagina Khan, Naseem Hayat, and Fauzia Bibi were named as the female PTI lawmakers who had sold votes. Among the male PTI lawmakers who were found guilty of selling votes by PTI’s investigation committee were Sardar Idrees, Obaid Mayar, Zahid Duranni, Abdul Haq, Qurban Khan, Amjid Afridi, Javed Naseem, Yasin Khali, Faisal Zaman, and Sami Alizayi.

The PTI chief also named Mairaj Humayun from Qaumi Watan Party, Khatoon Bibi and Babar Saleem from Awami Jamhuri Ittehad Pakistan, and Wajeeh uz Zaman from Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz for being involved in selling votes during the elections of the Upper House of the Parliament.

To counter the horse-trading culture, analysts believe, Prime Minister Imran Khan took a principled stance and introduced the idea of holding the Senate Election through an open show of hands. Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani has backed holding Senate elections via open ballot in his response to a reference pertaining to the matter filed by the government in the Supreme Court.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, and Balochistan governments have also backed the federal government’s opinion of holding open-ballot polls, while Sindh has rejected the idea.

Read more: Senate Polls schedule to be announced today: Will PTI win maximum seats?

Although the government has filed a reference to seeking the apex court’s opinion about holding the election through an open ballot, yet an ordinance has been issued to apply the same. Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Khalid Jawed Khan has argued that the ordinance was promulgated in the context since the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was going to issue the Senate elections schedule on Feb 11 when the apex court was hearing the reference, explaining that the entire exercise would become academic if the court would give its opinion after Feb 12.