GHAZI BAROTHA:

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said the opposition plans to “buy” lawmakers from the ruling party to ensure more its candidates get elected to the Senate as he continued his criticism of the opposition’s roadblocking of the open ballot proposal.

Addressing a tree plantation ceremony in Ghazi Barotha, the prime minister said the opposition had set-up a “mandi (market) to buy politicians and rates have been fixed”.

Since securing an overwhelming win in the 2018 elections, the PTI government has been eager to hold Senate elections early through an open vote. While the ruling party has claimed that the latter would promote transparency, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) has sternly opposed and termed it an attempt by the government to prevent its lawmakers from switching loyalties.

Subsequently, the government presented a bill seeking to amend the Constitution for an open vote in the Senate elections. Though it was passed from the standing committee concerned, the National Assembly witnessed a noisy session when the government presented the 26th constitutional amendment bill in NA. The bill has yet to be passed by the assembly.

The premier said the opposition parties used to ask for open ballots earlier. “No one would dare support a secret ballot if it is known that money is given in the Senate elections.”

The prime minister maintained that the opposition changed its tactic after multiple setbacks, including the Lahore rally and attempts to blackmail the government over the FATF legislation.

Continuing his criticism, the premier reiterated that the people of Pakistan are up against “the dacoits and mafias” and the nation stands at a critical crossroads.

Prime Minister Imran said corruption was normalised in the country during previous governments and added that a “country is destroyed when its prime minister and ministers start committing corruption”.

He further added that a country that continues to seek foreign loans is not accepted in the world and the politicians of Pakistan who are now residing in foreign countries have no proof of their wealth.

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