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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has asked his party legislators to “openly vote against” him, if they so choose, during his vote of confidence from the National Assembly on Saturday, as this is their democratic right.

In his televised address to the nation, the prime minister stated that the opposition wanted to “blackmail” him by hanging the sword of no-confidence motion threat on him but stated that he would not give “NRO” to them and “it does not matter what they do.”

Corrupt politicians who had plundered the wealth of the nation and indebted the country wanted to get relief from him through NRO as they got from the then military ruler General Pervez Musharraf, he added.

The prime minister also came down hard on the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for “failing” to discharge its constitutional obligation to hold Senate election free of corrupt practice.

The PM said that Yousuf Raza Gilani’s son was “involved” in buying of votes prior to the Senate election.

He said: “the opposition parties do not want me to move ahead on their corruption cases. They have been trying from day one to blackmail and pressurise me to give them an NRO.”

He also stated that the opposition also tried to “blackmail” the government on the occasion of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) legislation.

The prime minister further alleged that the opposition parties have used money in the senate election as through defeat of Dr Hafeez Sheikh “they want to prove that the prime minister does not enjoy a majority in the National Assembly.”

“I am not afraid of losing power because I do not have a monetary or financial interest,” he said and added that whether he remains in power or not he would continue his struggle against opposition leaders till they return the stolen wealth of the nation.

The prime minister deplored that corrupt practices such as use of money in Senate election has been going on for the last 40 years, and those who in the past had agreed in the Charter of Democracy in favour of open ballot in the Senate election have insisted on a secret ballot.

He further stated that he favoured the open ballot concept, so that the people do not indulge in such practices, and approached the Supreme Court for this purpose, and the Apex Court directed the Election Commission of Pakistan to use all modern technology to ensure transparency in the elections.

However, the ECP’s inability to act upon apex court’s directive for use of technology to ensure transparency in the election, has “discredited democracy”.

The failure of ECP to act against corrupt practices has damaged the morality, he added. The prime minister said the ECP had opposed in the apex court open ballot in the senate and did not use the latest technology, “so that if the ruling party at least had a chance to know about those who have sold their votes.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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