After the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) official Twitter handle posted a video evidencing illegal selling of votes by PTI Members of Provincial Assembly (PMAs) in the 2018 Senate elections, PTI leaders and government ministers have been denying prior knowledge of the incident.
Today, in a press briefing the Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar stressed upon the need for electoral reforms while referring to the same video. He said that every politician had heard of illegal horse-trading but he had never seen it happen or had any knowledge of it prior to this video.
“The video is from 2018 before the Senate elections. Some MPAs from KP are taking money to sell their vote. This is not recent news. We have been hearing for the last 20-30 years that Senate elections are sold, consciences are sold but it is heart-rending for any person who has a conscience,” he said in response to a question by the media.
He further said, “it is necessary for people sitting in parliament to have respect in society and that people believe [the parliamentarians] have the right to do legislation. Some people from there also form part of the cabinet and take big decisions for the people.”
After the Senate elections in 2018, the PTI had “expelled 20 MPAs without thinking whether their government would remain after this or not” on allegations of selling their votes, Umar said.
Similarly, Pervez Khattak has been questioned about the particular incident extensively during press briefings, as Khattak was the leader of the house in KP for PTI during its last tenure there. Furthermore, ex-PTI lawmaker Ubaid Ullah Mayar has confessed that he accepted bribes worth Rs10 million in 2018 and alleged that the then chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Pervez Khattak instructed him to do so. The allegations came after the video was posted on social media. “I know the reality of Pervez Khattak as well as National Assembly’s Speaker Asad Qaiser,” he said. “These two made the video, paid us, and the place shown in the video is the speaker’s house.”
In response to these questions, Pervez Khattak responded that PTI was swift to take action against its own MPAs in 2018, and he denied all allegations of being involved in the scandal. “We lost votes in the Senate, we lost our MPAs, and he [Mayar] alleges that I instructed him to do so, why would I damage my own government. Does that even make sense?” said the former Chief Minister of KP. He further added, that contrary to rumours the exchange of money did not take place in KP Assembly’s Speaker’s House but rather the speaker of National Assembly’s residence in Islamabad.
Similarly, Federal Minister for Broadcast and Information Shibli Faraz toed the same line and denied having known of the issue before-hand.
As of now, in response to the video evidence of horse-trading, the KP Law Minister Sultan Khan resigned after tendering his resignation from the provincial cabinet on Tuesday. The move came minutes after the chief minister tweeted that he had instructed Sultan Khan to do so over the video evidence.