P.M. Khan claims video shows ‘cycle of corruption and money laundering’ among Pakistan’s political elite
A leaked video showing Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa lawmakers allegedly being paid bribes to vote against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Senate candidates in the 2018 polls went viral on Tuesday, resulting in the resignation of a sitting minister and Prime Minister Imran Khan slamming the “corruption-friendly” system of secret ballot in elections.
The video shows an unidentified man handing over a large amount of cash to various Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa lawmakers from the PTI, the PPP and the Qaumi Watan Party. Filmed via hidden camera, the clip also shows Sultan Muhammad Khan, the PTI’s law minister in Khyber-Pakthunkhwa for over 2 years, counting money and signing an undertaking—presumably to vote in favor of whichever party is bribing him.
Former lawmakers Meraj Hamyoon, Dena Khan, Muhammad Ali Bacha and several others were also filmed receiving cash for supporting candidates of parties in the Senate polls.
As the clip went viral, questions were raised about Sultan’s continued presence in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa cabinet, prompting Prime Minister Imran Khan to order provincial Chief Minister Mahmood Khan to withdraw his portfolio. In a posting on Twitter, the chief minister said he had asked the minister to resign. “Instructions have been issued for a transparent inquiry. In line with P.M. Imran Khan’s vision, the KP government will not compromise on transparency and accountability,” he said.
In his resignation, Sultan Muhammad said he was submitting it on “moral grounds.” Claiming it had been an “honor” to be a part of the provincial cabinet, he said he was ready to face any inquiry related to the scandal. “I am confident that justice will be served and my name will be cleared,” he said, with local media reporting that he was claiming the video had been doctored and his name would be cleared.
One of the lawmakers in the video, Ubaidullah Mayar, has claimed that while he was paid to vote in the Senate polls, it was done by then-Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa chief minister Pervaiz Khattak, who is now the federal defense minister. He has claimed he voted in line with party policy.
The timing of the video’s release has raised eyebrows among observers, who point out it has emerged as the ruling party is seeking open ballot in the Senate elections, claiming it would end the practice of horse-trading. The party has filed a presidential reference in the Supreme Court, asking the top court to give its legal opinion on whether the Senate polls fall under the purview of the Constitution—requiring secret ballot—or the Election Act 2017. Despite the court still conducting hearings into the reference, the president has already promulgated a conditional ordinance, which would come into force if the court rules in the government’s favor.
The opposition has claimed the PTI’s ham-fisted approach to legislating has created a “constitutional crisis” and vowed to contest the ordinance in court.
Cycle of corruption
In a posting on Twitter after the video was released, Prime Minister Imran Khan accused the opposition’s Pakistan Democratic Movement of trying to protect a system based on a “cycle of corruption and money laundering” by resisting the government’s move to secure open ballot in Senate polls. “The videos showing the shameful way in which politicians buy and sell votes in Senate reflects the total destruction of the nation’s morality by successive ruling elites as they drowned the nation in debt,” he said.
“They spend money to come into power and then use this political power to make money to purchase bureaucrats, media and other decision-makers to consolidate their power and rob nation’s wealth,” he claimed, reiterating his claims of this wealth being transferred out of the country through offshore accounts and foreign assets. “This is what the PDM cabal wants to now protect by supporting a corruption-friendly system. We are determined to stop this cycle of corruption and money laundering that is debilitating the nation,” he added.