ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan on Thursday said that he will seek a vote of confidence in the National Assembly on Saturday following the defeat of finance minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh against former PM Yousaf Raza Gilani in a hotly contested Senate polls on Islamabad seat for which the National Assembly was the electoral college.
In a televised address to the nation, Khan claimed that money was used in the election and some lawmakers of his Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) had sold their votes. “I am now going to parliament for vote of confidence,” he said.
In Pakistan, Khan said, the one who wants to become senator uses money. “And who do they buy? Members of parliament,” he said.
“So I was surprised when I came to know this and since then I started a campaign that what a joke is happening with our democracy? What kind of democracy is this?” he said.
Since then, Khan said he had started a campaign for open ballot for Senate polls.
In the 2018 Senate elections, Imran said he came to know that 20 PTI lawmakers had sold their votes. “We expelled them from party but then I saw that it wasn’t just me saying this, but the two main parties that signed the Charter of Democracy — the PML-N and PPP — had agreed that there should be open ballot because money is exchanged in the Senate elections,” he said.
To end corruption in Senate polls, Imran said his party presented a bill in the parliament seeking open ballot. “Then we saw it wasn’t happening and the parties which had said that there should be open ballot didn’t support us. We then went to the Supreme Court and a whole case was heard in the SC,” the PM said.
During the hearings, a video of lawmakers taking money in 2018 Senate polls had surfaced, he said. Last week, the SC ruled that it was the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) responsibility to conduct honest and transparent elections. Khan said that that by holding Senate elections through secret ballot, the ECP had failed to ensure transparency.
The PM said the opposition had planned to “use money” to “break our party apart” and bring PTI lawmakers over to their side. “The real objective was to hang the sword of a vote of confidence over my head and blackmail me, so I give them an NRO, which I will never give to ones who have looted this country,” he said.
The acronym NRO refers to the National Reconciliation Order under which the late Benazir Bhutto (and many others) were able to return to Pakistan from exile as cases against them were dropped. The term is now commonly used to describe an attempt to use an ordinance to allow someone to escape the legal process.
After staging an upset in the Senate elections, the opposition parties have managed to retain their majority in the upper house of parliament and are now hopeful of getting the top offices of chairman and deputy chairman for which elections through secret ballot will be held on March 12.
As expected, a hung Senate emerged after the Wednesday’s polls as the opposition and the ruling alliances now have 53 and 47 members, respectively, in the Senate which now has a strength of 100 members.