Ministerial panel summons senators in 2018 polls probe

ISLAMABAD: A three-member ministerial committee probing the 2018 Senate elections video leak on Wednesday summoned four winning senators to ask them about their victory despite apparently lacking the required number of party votes in the polls and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) members seen in the video taking bundles of cash.

ISLAMABAD: June 11 – Parliamentarians listens Federal Minister for Finance, Economic Affairs and Statistics Syed Naveed Qamar presenting the national budget 2008-09 during National Assembly session at Parliament House. The minister presents the Rs. 2010 billion budget and size is 29.7% higher than the size of estimates for 2007-08. APP photo by Afzaal Chaudhry

The committee comprising two ministers and an adviser, who have been tasked with ascertaining facts about the scam and forwarding recommendations to the prime minister within a month, summoned Senators Mushtaq Ahmed of the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), Rubina Khalid and Behramand Tangi of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Dilawar Khan (independent).

Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry, Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari and Adviser to the Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar, who attended the meeting held at the Ministry of Science and Technology, also decided to serve notices on all PTI MPAs from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa seen taking cash in the video. “We have decided to summon them to appear before the committee within seven days to record their statement,” a source privy to the meeting said.

The source said: “They [senators] will be asked how they were elected when they lacked the required number of party votes.” The elected senators would also be questioned if they were involved in vote trading and whether anyone had provided them monetary assistance for the purpose, the source added.

According to Fawad Chaudhry, the committee will set the scope of its work and terms of reference in order to fix criminal liability on the persons actually involved in the scam. He said the committee could seek assistance of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and police in exposing those involved in vote sale during the Senate elections.

He categorically rejected the opposition’s stance that Defence Minister Pervez Khattak and National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar were involved in purchasing the loyalty of MPAs from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. “We should not give importance to false claims of the opposition,” he said.

The minister said the PTI had already expelled 21 MPAs from the party for selling their loyalties and now the committee would unveil faces of those who had purchased the MPAs.

Published in Dawn, February 25th, 2021

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