Says ‘raise your hands and send me out’
Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Thursday that the March 3 Senate election explained the problems faced by the country.
He said he got to know about the Senate vote trade when his party participated in the 2018 election of the upper house.
“When I got to know, I started a campaign against this mockery of our democracy,” the prime minister said in a televised address.
“Remember that the country’s leadership comes to the Senate,” he lamented. “An individual pays to become a senator and parliamentarians sell their votes for money in Senate polls.
“What kind of democracy is this,” PM Khan questioned.
In the 2018 Senate election, he said, his party came to know that around 20 of its parliamentarians had been sold.
“We expelled 20 members from the party,” he recalled.
All parties in the Pakistan Democratic Movement banded together for a secret ballot in the Senate polls, the premier said.
These opposition parties have been demanding an open ballot in the past, he noted.
PM Khan said the opposition wanted to pressure him into giving it an NRO and end the corruption cases.
“They sought an NRO for supporting the FATF bill,” he said. “They wanted to break our MNAs and win against Hafeez Shaikh. They wanted to show that Imran Khan doesn’t have the majority in the National Assembly.”
The prime minister said the opposition’s real motive was to keep the sword of no-confidence vote hanging on his head and blackmail him into giving an NRO.
He said the Election Commission of Pakistan had a major role to play in the Senate election.
“Your biggest responsibility is to ensure free and fair elections,” PM Khan told the ECP.
“I didn’t understand why you advocated a secret ballot in the court. Tell me does the constitution allow committing thievery and taking bribe?”
He accused the ECP of “saving criminals and bringing harm to democracy”.
The prime minister then turned his guns on the media. Journalists went to the court and said Nawaz Sharif should be allowed to deliver speeches, he lamented.
“Was he (Nawaz) Nelson Mandela,” he asked the media.
The prime minister said he would take a vote of confidence from the assembly the day after tomorrow.
“Raise your hand and send me out of the government and I will go to the opposition,” he said.
“I will sit on the opposition benches if I lose the vote.”
The premier made the decision to address the nation at a meeting of PTI parliamentarians in Islamabad, according to Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed.
The following three decisions were taken during the meeting as well:
During the meeting, the parliamentarians and party members discussed horse-trading during the Senate election, Rasheed said.
The ruling PTI won 18 seats during the Senate elections, according to unofficial results, taking the number of its senators up from 14 to 26 members.
The biggest blow to the party was, however, the defeat of Abdul Hafeez Shaikh against PPP’s Yousaf Raza Gillani. The PPP secured eight seats.
The PML-N won five seats. It became the third-largest party in the upper house with 18 seats.