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March 5, 2021

15 to 16 members traded their conscience: Won’t let looters run even if out of power, says Imran

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March 5, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Terming the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) leaders corrupt and traitors, Prime Minister Imran Khan Thursday said whether he remained in power or not, he will not spare anyone of them unless they cough up the nation’s looted money.

In his over 30-minute address on the state-run media, Imran said he wanted to put some facts before the nation and the young generation about his 25-year struggle against corruption and to ensure transparency in elections and how the opposition tried to block it through various tactics to get an NRO from him.

Addressing the opposition towards the end of his address, he said, “My message to you all is that I will not spare anyone of you. I will rally public out of their homes, as this nation does not come out to protect the looted money. I will show you how people are gathered against corruption”.

He also made it clear that as long as he was alive, he would work for the rule of law. “I will fight against those who steal the money of the country and take it out. This country will become a great country when all these big bandits are taken to prison,” he remarked. He said the opposition leaders send the stolen money out of the country, which puts the country in peril. He reiterated that he will not yield to blackmail by giving an NRO to the opposition.

“My message to the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) is that I don’t care if I go out of power. The government only spends money on my travel and security and the rest is borne by myself; I live in my own home. The country is facing difficult times and the people face hunger,” he noted.

Referring to the March 3 Senate elections, he emphasised that if the nation understood what went wrong in the Senate elections, then all the problems of the country will be comprehended.

He added if the Senate election had been held through an open ballot, the PTI would have got as many seats as it was supposed to get. “The opposition investedmoney in the Senate seat from Islamabad just to blackmail me through a no confidence motion and show as if I have lost support of the majority,” he said.

“They thought, that with the no-confidence motion, I will budge. But I am going to the assembly and ask my members it is your democratic right to raise your hands if I am not capable and eligible, I will respect you. And will go to the opposition. But my message to PDM leaders is that it makes no difference to me; I have not built factories or posted my relatives to key positions. I live in my own home. For I fear Allah. I saved the country’s money. I spent ten times less on my travel broad,” he remarked.

He challenged the people to show him the example of a single country, which progressed with its prime minister and ministers being corrupt.

About Yusuf Raza Gilani’s win against Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, he noted that there were celebrations, as if they had clinched a major victory. He is the one who was disqualified by the Supreme Court, when he was asked to write a letter to Swiss government to return of $ 60 million stashed in their banks but he showed loyalty to Zardari instead and did not comply with the order of the apex court.

Addressing the Election Commission of Pakistan, he said to organise clean and transparent elections was the constitutional responsibility of the Election Commission.

“First of all, I do not understand why the Election Commission went to the Supreme Court and said that there should be a secret ballot. Does any constitution allow bribery? Does the constitution allow theft?” he remarked.

“When the Supreme Court gave you a chance and asked you to keep the election secret but ensure identification of the ballot, for example today if we want to know that who are those 15, 16 people, who traded their conscience? But you saved them by allowing secret ballots. You have damaged our democracy and morality. What kind of democracy is this where a senator wins by paying money,” he wondered.

He continued and asked the Election Commission what example were they setting for our young population. “Money was used publicly , video recordings of money exchanging hands are doing rounds. Earlier, the video of taking money in the 2018 election was played. Don’t you know that it was your responsibility to investigate? All the agencies are under you. This spectacle happened in front of the public. When the leadership of a country will take and give bribe, how could the Patwari and Thanedar be fair,” he remarked.

“You are bringing corrupt people into mainstream. The law alone can’t eliminate corruption from the society and the society collectively has to rise against it. I ask the nation, if you accept these big dacoits, then is it the responsibility of Imran Khan to go after them alone. We tolerated corruption and today have reached to this position,” he maintained.

Quoting a Chinese proverb ‘A fish rots from the head down”, he said, “The ECP knew that corrupt practices were adopted and they already said that offers were being made. The Supreme Court gave you an opportunity but what was the reason that you could not apply (affix) bar codes to 1500 ballots and allowed democracy to be discredited. I have a question for you to answer has democracy been served with this Senate election.”

Imran said the Election Commission gave an opportunity to discredit democracy. What happened to it? Was the democracy strengthened by this exercise or suffered a death blow? You have damaged the morals of the country. You have no idea how much money has been spent in the Senate elections. How a person who spends crores of rupees to become a senator will serve the country? Where will he recover his investment from?

He emphasised that money had been used in the Senate elections for 30, 40 years and recalled six years back when PTI was in power in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, they took part in Senate elections and then he had an idea that money was used in these polls.

“Money is used in the Senate elections. Members of Parliament are bought. Senators reach the Upper House by spending colossal amounts of money and therefore he launched a campaign for the open ballot.”

He said that in the 2018 Senate elections, 20 of PTI members traded their conscience and were expelled from the party.He said two major political parties had signed the Charter of Democracy saying that there should be an open ballot but this time all were in favor of the secret ballot despite having moved a bill for open ballot in one of the Houses.

The prime minister said when these parties did not abide by the open ballot, they had to seek the opinion of the Supreme Court but also moved a constitutional amendment bill, which was not supported by the opposition.

The Supreme Court also said that money is used in the Senate polls. He said all of them (opposition leaders) were trying to put pressure on him so that he could surrender like Musharraf and give them NRO.

“I had said in my first speech that they will all come together, which they did and they tried to blackmail me and again when legislation regarding the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) was tabled. Pakistan was put on the gray list during the opposition government’s tenure and it now could have been relegated to the black list, had their conditions not met, which meant sanctions and devaluation of rupee and more inflation.

He said the opposition linked their support to the FATF bill on fulfilling their conditions of doing away with the NAB, whereas it had nothing to do with the FATF.