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February 9, 2021

‘Horse trading’ in 2018 Senate polls: PTI allegations against own MPAs yet to be proven


February 9, 2021

PESHAWAR: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) accused 20 MPAs in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa of horse-trading in the 2018 Senate elections but could not prove allegations.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan had announced that cases against MPAs involved in corruption would be referred to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) but not a single case against any MPA has been referred to the NAB.

Some former MPAs have filed a defamation suit against Prime Minister Imran Khan in various courts but the PTI has not submitted evidence or reply in any of the cases. Two petitions filed under the Defamation Ordinance 2002 are still pending. PM's lawyers are using various tactics to delay the case. The special jirga met former special assistant to the chief minister Arif Yousaf for an out-of-court settlement. The court dismissed the case after the reconciliation between both parties. Former MPAs Kurban Ali Khan, Zahid Durrani, Obaidullah Mayar and Yasin Khalil were also persuaded to resolve the issue out of court through a jirga.

It is eminent that PTI lawmakers enabled two PPP candidates to be elected to the Senate from the province where the PPP only had seven MPAs. The late Maulana Samiul Haq, a candidate for the technocrat seat, got only four votes while the other losing candidate was Khayal Zaman. PTI spokesman and Provincial Labour Minister Shaukat Yousafzai told this scribe that 20 members were expelled from the party on horse-trading in the last Senate elections. However, in such cases it is not possible to find any concrete evidence against the members involved in corruption. "The provincial government acted in the light of reports from various sources and agencies. Two PTI candidates were defeated and how seven MPAs of PPP elected two members of the Senate," he said.

Shaukat Yousafzai termed Arif Yousuf's claim as baseless and said that he himself had requested Babar Awan that he want to withdraw his case but if Babar Awan come to his house for a cup of tea and that is why Babar Awan went his home. He said that Prime Minister Imran Khan did not apologise to anyone.

If anyone has contacted former members, it must have been done individually. An initial investigation ordered by KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak into alleged horse-trading revealed that at least 20 PTI MPAs in KP had voted for candidates outside the party. As a result, two PTI candidates Khayal Zaman and Maulana Samiul Haq lost the election. The two PPP candidates Behramand Tangi and Rubina Khalid won the election.

Imran Khan had announced on April 18, 2018 that the party was taking action against 20 lawmakers for "participating in horse-trading" during the Senate elections. Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, the PTI chief said that the party will give the accused a chance to explain before their names are forwarded to the NAB.

PTI expelled MPAs from the party but did not take any legal action. The PTI chief announced that the accused lawmakers had received as much as Rs40 million each and added that the party will issue a show-cause notice to them. "This is not the first time that the lawmakers have taken part in horse-trading," Imran Khan said. "This has been happening for the past 30 or 40 years."

The names of the PTI lawmakers who were suspected by the party leadership of "selling their votes" include Deena Naaz, Nargis Ali, Nagina Khan, Sardar Idrees, Obaid Mayar, Zahid Durrani, Fouzia Bibi, Naseem Hayat, Qurban Khan, Arif Yousaf, Amjid Afridi, Abdul Haq, Javed Naseem, Yasin Khalil, Faisal Zaman and Sami Alizayi. MPA's from QWP Meraj Hamayun, Awami Jamhoori Ittehad Khatoon Bibi and Babar Saleem were also mentioned in the horse-trading list. PML-N's Wajihuz Zaman, who joined PTI, was also included in the list.

Former MPA Arif Yousuf told Jang that he was falsely accused and had filed a defamation suit against the prime minister in the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge Peshawar Abdul Majeed. The court has disposed of the matter after reconciliation between both parties due to out of court settlement. Arif Yousaf told this scribe that a delegation headed by Babar Awan came to his house and tendered unconditional apology from PM. He accepted the jirga and the case were disposed of.

When former MPA Yasin Khalil was contacted, he said that the Peshawar High Court had dismissed their case and directed to approach the District and Sessions Judge's court, but a jirga headed by incumbent Defence Minister Pervez Khattak came to meet them. Many MPAs, including me, did not file a case in the lower court.

Other interesting cases are that of former female MPAs Fauzia Bibi and Meraj Humayun are being heard in the courts of Peshawar and Swabi. The lawsuit of Fauzia Bibi, filed under the Defamation Ordinance 2002, has still been in the initial stages as the defendant Imran Khan, who subsequently became prime minister, had so far not filed a reply whereas his legal team has been filing different applications thus delaying the trial.

Despite repeated orders of the trial court, the defendant (Imran Khan) has not been filing a written reply to the suit. Fauzia, a lawmaker hailing from Chitral, had filed the lawsuit under Section-8 of the Defamation Ordinance 2002. She claimed that the said defamatory statements had damaged the political, social and family life of the plaintiff besides destroying her personality.

An application was filed on the behalf of Imran Khan seeking the return of the lawsuit saying the news conference was addressed in Islamabad, which was out of the jurisdiction of the present court.

However, it was dismissed by the court on Jan 30, 2019. On December 14, 2019, the trial court here had rejected an application of Imran seeking dismissal of the suit of Fauzia contending that it was not maintainable. The said order was challenged by Imran before the Peshawar High Court and that petition has still been pending there.

The defendant filed an application in April 2019 under Order VII Rule 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure. The court pronounced its order after almost six months on December 14 and rejected the application of Imran.

Another woman, former MPA Meraj Humayun had filed a case in the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge Swabi in which no progress has been made.