PESHAWAR: Taking a stern stance against horse-trading as the Senate elections approach near, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday categorically told the PTI lawmakers from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to “leave the party” if they intended to sell their votes.
Sources confirmed that 20 lawmakers — 14 MNAs and six MPAs— remained absent from the meeting chaired by the prime minister. The lawmakers did not attend the meeting due to preoccupations and various other reasons, Geo News reported.
The sources said MPAs Sultan Muhammad Khan and Liaqat Khattak, who were removed from ministries over supporting rival candidate in Nowshera by-election, and allegedly accepting bribe for Senate election, respectively, were not invited to the meeting, so they did not come. MPAs Abdul Karim Khan, Ziaullah Bangash and Maleeha Ali could not attend meeting due to personal engagements. NA Speaker Asad Qaiser could not attend meeting due to engagements in the National Assembly, while federal ministers Umar Ayub, Murad Saeed, MNAs Junaid Akbar, Saleh Muhammad, Sher Akbar, Sibghatullah, Ali Khan Jadoon and Yaqoob Khan also could not attend meeting due to different engagements and personal reasons.
The prime minister visited the city after the PTI suffered a defeat in the recently-held Nowshera by-election, where the PML-N candidate won from the PTI stronghold. Reports had emerged that the PTI had lost the election due to internal party rifts as Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak’s brother had reportedly been miffed with the party leadership after his son was not given the ticket to contest the election.
A resolution backing the party’s Senate candidates was passed with consensus during the meeting, said Special Assistant to the Chief Minister on Information, Kamran Bangash.
He said that the prime minister was briefed in detail about the party’s recent loss in the Nowshera by-election, claiming that the PML-N had adopted “modern methods” to rig the polls.
“There is a difference of 6,000-7,000 in forms 45 and 46,” alleged Bangash, adding that the PML-N had brought in experts to rig the polls.
He said that the prime minister had been told that the party intends to move the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) regarding the election results, adding that the PTI will get the winning candidate, Ikhtiyar Wali, disqualified.
“We will never let the people’s mandate be stolen,” he said. During the meeting, the prime minister categorically told lawmakers that whoever wanted to sell his/her vote in the upcoming Senate elections should leave the party. “Everyone gets to know about the MPA who sells his/her vote,” he reportedly said.
The prime minister spoke about the previous Senate elections, saying that some MPAs of the party had then sold their votes for money, adding that he had dismissed them from the party after finding out about it. “The opposition is afraid that the PTI will secure a majority in the Senate,” he was quoted as saying by sources.
The prime minister recalled during the meeting that his party had always campaigned for transparent elections, adding that the government has, in the same spirit, supported the demand for open balloting in the Senate elections.
Imran Khan said Monday that the country is still lagging behind because politicians come into power to “steal money” instead of utilising it for public service.
During the meeting, the premier said those who came to politics for making money have now become an example for others. He said that the real aim behind politics is public service, however, politicians have been using it to “make money” instead of serving the masses. Criticising the opposition, he said that leaders of different parties have also spent money to mould things to their advantage.
“When a nation’s morality dies, its downfall begins,” the prime minister said. The party’s lawmakers present during the meeting backed Imran Khan’s vision and lauded his ideas.
Separately, Imran Khan met Governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Shah Farman and Chief Minister KP Mahmood Khan. The ongoing development projects in the province and political issues were discussed during the meeting, according to a statement.
Meanwhile, Imran Khan advised the PTI candidate to ask for re-polling in 20 polling stations of NA-75 constituency of Daska, Sialkot. “So even though there is no legal compulsion to do so before the ECP announces results, I would request our PTI candidate to ask for re-polling in the 20 polling stations,” the prime minister said on Twitter. He said he had always struggled for fair and free elections. The opposition was crying hoarse over in the Daska NA-75 bye-election, he added.
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