Information minister says government will not ‘play nice’ but clarifies that this does not mean it intends to use bribes to secure votes
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government will do “everything necessary” to ensure that Sadiq Sanjrani emerges victorious in the election for the leadership of the Upper House of Parliament, Information Minister Shibli Faraz said on Tuesday.
In an appearance on Geo News, he said that the government was willing to employ any tactic required to win the Senate chairmanship. “We are ready this time. It can’t happen that we play sharif, sharif (noble) and do everything according to law. We would do everything necessary for winning,” he said to a question on how the government and its allies hoped to win the polls without a majority in the Senate.
Claiming that the opposition “always” violated rules and used money to secure its goals, Faraz said that the government had to respond in kind and used every tactic available to it for the Senate leadership. To a question on whether this meant that the government was willing to use the same tactics it accuses the opposition of using, he said the government would not “play nicely” this time.
“It will not happen that the Opposition is allowed to touch the ball with their hands in a football match, while the government just plays with the foot. Love begets love and vice versa,” he said, referring to the sport in which players are not permitted to use their hands to score goals. However, he stressed, that this would not mean the government would use money to secure the votes it needed, “just all the other means at our disposal.”
To anchor Shahzeb Khanzada pointing out that this meant the government was losing its moral high ground and was now doing the same thing it had repeatedly accused the opposition of, the information minister claimed the difference of numbers was so slight that “many lawmakers” will vote “with their conscience” for Sanjrani because of their “personal ties” to him. The government has alleged that the opposition’s Yousaf Raza Gilani could not have won the Islamabad general seat for the Senate due to its numerical majority.
The opposition, meanwhile, has already alleged that the government is planning on using the security establishment to pressure its lawmakers into voting for Sanjrani. Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has told media that the Pakistan Democratic Movement hopes there won’t be a repeat of the by-elections and the Senate elections, which he alleged had been repeatedly targeted by ‘agencies’ to ensure the verdicts would go in the government’s favor.
No formal offer
To a question on whether the government had offered the deputy chairman slot of the Senate to the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl), Faraz clarified that no formal offer had been conveyed. “The JUIF is just raising the matter to gain importance,” he claimed even though the reports only emerged after Defense Minister Pervaiz Khattak told media that the government had offered Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haider the position of deputy chairman of the Senate.
To another question on media reports about Prime Minister Imran Khan seeking “major changes” in the Punjab government, the information minister said there were no plans for changes at the chief minister or similar administrative levels.