Pakistan’s prime minister claims 20 PTI lawmakers were paid Rs. 50 million each in last Senate elections to vote against party candidates
Claiming that 20 Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf lawmakers from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa were paid Rs. 50 million each to vote against party candidates in the last Senate elections, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said the government wanted to curtail such bribery by introducing an open-ballot system.
“Money goes to the very top,” he claimed during an interaction with journalists in Sahiwal, adding that he had also been offered money to vote for certain candidates during his years as a parliamentarian. He reiterated his claims that the parties opposing the introduction of open ballot would “stand exposed,” because they supporting buying loyalty through corruption.
Khan said the PTI had expelled 20 lawmakers after finding them guilty of taking Rs. 50 million in bribes for horse-trading in the 2018 Senate polls. “We know who is raising money to buy loyalties this time,” he claimed, without naming anyone.
Terming the practice of money-for-votes a “betrayal,” he said the Senate represented provinces in the federation and bribes raised questions about the ability of members of the Upper House to represent their respective provinces. “What kind of democracy is this where legislators sell their vote by taking money?” he said.
Acknowledging that his government lacked a two-thirds majority in Parliament to pass a constitutional amendment, the prime minister said the government would still table the legislation in its bid to curb horse-trading.
Per routine, the bulk of Khan’s press conference revolved around him accusing the opposition of corruption. He reiterated his claims of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif backing land grabbers, and claimed that it was an “insult to ulema” to refer to Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman as a “maulana.” He alleged that the Pakistan Democratic Movement president had used funds intended for madrassas to become a billionaire, adding that the PDM was fated to fail, as “looters had united” to “blackmail” him.
Referring to the PTI’s foreign funding case—pending before the Election Commission of Pakistan for over six years—the prime minister reiterated his claims that the opposition had been trapped by the same net they had sought to target the PTI with. He claimed the PTI had nothing to hide, as it had already provided the ECP with data of around 40,000 accounts who had donated to the party. He challenged all opposition parties to produce details of even 1,000 accounts who had funded them.
To a question on the opposition’s criticism of the government appointing former Supreme Court judge Azmat Sheikh to probe the Broadsheet scandal, Khan claimed they would not acknowledge any forum that decided against them. “They have refused to acknowledge NAB’s authority. In the past, they used to get decisions from the judges according to their liking,” he claimed.