Pakistan PM Imran Khan vows to end cycle of corruption with open ballot Senate polls

Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has vowed to fight corruption and money-laundering – a system that is “debilitating the nation”. The government aims to address the challenge of corruption with open ballot system in the 2021 Senate polls.

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Taking notice of the leaked video that exposed horse-trading during 2018 Senate elections, Imran Khan ordered the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister to remove the provincial law minister who could be seen in the video allegedly receiving money for votes.

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“The video showing the shameful way in which politicians buy and sell votes in the Senate reflects the total destruction of the nation’s morality by successive ruling elites as they drowned the nation in debt,” Khan tweeted. “They spend money to come to power and then use this political power to make money to purchase bureaucrats, media and other decision-makers to consolidate their power and rob nation’s wealth – money laundering it into offshore accounts/foreign assets/palatial residences abroad,” the prime minister said in a series of hard-hitting posts on Twitter.

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Vicious cycle of corruption

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Khan also accused the 11-party opposition alliance, Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), of trying to protect a system based on a “cycle of corruption” and money laundering. “This is what the PDM cabal wants to now protect by supporting a corruption-friendly system.” He asserted that the government is “determined to stop this cycle of corruption and money laundering that is debilitating the nation.”

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The premier’s comments came after a viral video showed some Khyber Pakhtunkhwa parliamentarians receiving large sums of money in return of their votes during Senate elections in 2018 after which the PTI lawmakers were expelled from the party.

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Open-ballot votes to curb horse-trading

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Referring to the video, Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar stressed the need for reforms in the Senate election process. “It is not a new practice…but the PTI government wants to stop this obnoxious game once and for all,” the minister said. To end the corrupt practice of horse-trading in the Senate elections, “the government has presented a bill in the parliament for a constitutional amendment to hold Senate election through open balloting,” he informed.

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This week, Pakistan’s President Dr Arif Alvi approved an ordinance to hold the upcoming Senate polls through “open and identifiable ballot”. Next month, the assemblies will elect 52 new members to the 104-member house for six-year terms. The ordinance, which was opposed by the opposition, is now pending the Supreme Court’s judgment. The move is aimed at curbing the buying and selling of votes in Senate elections, which has long destroyed the sanctity of the upper house of parliament.

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The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is set to emerge as the largest party in the elections of the Senate which is currently dominated by the opposition, blocking government-backed legislation.

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