Says recent horse-trading video shows shameful way in which politicians buy, sell votes in Senate polls
Prime Minister Imran Khan has accused the 11-party opposition alliance – the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) – of trying to protect a system based on a “cycle of corruption and money laundering” – a system that according to him is “debilitating the nation”.
“They [opposition parties] 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.
“[This wealth is then turned] into offshore accts, foreign assets [and] palatial residences abroad [through money laundering],” Imran Khan said on Tuesday in a series of hard-hitting posts on micro-blogging site Twitter after emergence of a scandalous video.
The video, dating back to 2018, showed a man handing over large sums of money, reportedly Rs20 million, to various K-P Assembly lawmakers from the ruling PTI as well as some other parties for supporting the candidates of the PPP.
Taking immediate notice of the horse-trading scandal, Prime Minister Imran Khan ordered K-P Chief Minister Mahmood Khan to remove Sultan Muhammad Khan, the incumbent provincial law minister who could be seen in the video counting stacks of money.
“The video showing the shameful way in which politicians buy and sell votes in the Senate reflects the total destruction of the nation’s morality by successive ruling elites as they drowned the nation in debt.
“Cycle of corruption and money laundering is a sordid tale of our political elite,” the premier said in a reference to the video clip. “We are [however] determined to stop this cycle of corruption and money laundering that is debilitating the nation,” he added.
Addressing a press conference, Minister for Planning Asad Umar said as the date for Senate elections is approaching the politicians have started setting their prices to sell votes for Senate seats.
“It is not a new practice as we have been observing such Bakra Mandi [livestock market] like practices in the parliament for a long time but the PTI government wants to stop this obnoxious game once for all,” the minister added.
Umar said the leaked video – circulated on media – was actually recorded in 2018 before the Senate elections and it clearly showed some K-P assembly members receiving cash in return of their votes.
He said the PTI had cancelled the party membership of the 20 accused MPAs which was a reflection of the party’s commitment to curb corrupt practices across the board.
The minister said the people won elections by utilizing the money that they had earned through wrongful means and after winning the election, they used their influence to earn more black money.
“It is necessary to tell the people that the government has presented a bill in the parliament for a constitutional amendment to hold Senate election through open balloting,” he said in a reference to the relevant proposed legislation.
“The politicians who were creating fuss over the amendment know that if the amendment is passed, their sources of black money would be stopped.”
Umar said in the past the opposition leaders have repeatedly supported the idea of holding the Senate elections through open ballot but now when there is a time to turn those statements into reality, they have started playing politics on the issue.
The minister rejected the PDM’s claim that the government is worried about the Senate elections and reminded them that the government had succeeded sailing Financial Action Task Force (FATF) bills through the upper house despite lacking a majority in the Senate.
Talking about filing of a presidential reference that seeks the Supreme Court’s opinion on open ballot in the Senate elections, Umar said the time for the polls is approaching and the SC has not yet reached a decision.
“That is why the government decided to issue an ordinance but the top court would have the final word on the issue.” He said interpreting the Constitution is the Supreme Court’s domain and the government would accept its decision.
To a question, Umar said MPAs and MNAs are “free to support anyone and the Constitution does not stop them from doing so. “But there should be some basis for casting the vote [against your own party],” he added.