ISLAMABAD: Reacting to the opposition's allegations regarding the installation of hidden cameras inside polling booths for Friday's Senate chairman and deputy chairman elections, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz said the cameras were deployed by the opposition leaders themselves only "to stage a drama" later on.
Addressing a news conference along with PTI Senator Faisal Javed, he said that the opposition has given an impression that the cameras were deployed by the government.
"We will make sure that this incident is thoroughly investigated. We all know what people were employed inside the building during their [the PPP's] tenure. We will expose those who are the agents and proxies of Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz," he said.
The Minister said that they (the opposition parties) are the ones who talk about tactics to waste votes, adding that “our main objective is transparency and that is what Prime Minister Imran Khan has been struggling for so long”.
He claimed the people who won the election in National Assembly despite being in a minority are those who are struggling to hide their corruption.
The minister said that such incidents would occur again until and unless secret ballot mode is not replaced with open ballot mode.
Faisal Javed said the government has offered the option for open ballot but opposition leaders have always declined its suggestion.
“All they [the opposition parties] want an NRO from Imran Khan,” he added.
Referring to PML-N Senator Dr Musadik Malik and PPP Senator Mustafa Nawaz as "James Bond 007", the PTI leader claimed that everything was “pre-planned” by the opposition.
"They are the ones yearning for secret ballot, [devious] tactics and conspiracies," he added.
Earlier, Dr Malik and Khokhar claimed that hidden cameras had been installed in polling booths set up for the elections of Senate chairman and deputy chairman.
The senators had shared purported evidence on Twitter hours before the Senate was set to elect its new chairman and deputy chairman.
Later, they also held a joint news conference and said that the Senate Secretary must examine the polling booth before the election of Senate chairman.
“Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar and I went to the polling station on the direction of our parties to check the polling booth...when we arrived at the booth, there were hidden cameras right above the polling booth,” said Malik. "Both were pointing exactly towards the person voting and the second hidden camera was focused on the ballot paper," he said.
He said there was a lamp inside the polling booth with "holes" in it, and there were many microphones and cameras in it. He also called on the police to take into custody the cameras as "evidence" and called for the opening of a "device" stuck in the booth in front of the opposition so they could see what was in it. He also proposed formation of a parliamentary committee to investigate this matter.
Senator Khokhar said that “important thing” to note is that the House’s security is focused on the Senate chairman, secretary and head of security.
“An investigation should be held on how this security breach was committed,” said Khokhar. He also asked that investigation be held to see if these three people were involved in this breach.
“If the polling booth was protected by the current chairman and his men, this means a plan was there to steal the election,” claimed the senator.
Khokar said that after taking their oaths both the parties’ senators will hold consultations on who should investigate the matter.
“We will hold consultations on this with lawyers present in the senate. we will discuss whether house should investigate this by including senators or should the police investigate it,” he said. He said that under the Election Act of 2017 “tampering with secrecy of vote is a crime”.
PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi also accused Prime Minister Imran Khan and Senate chairman of being involved in the installation of cameras in Senate.
"There are no two opinions that Prime Minister Imran Khan and the incumbent Senate chairman [Sanjrani] are involved in the installation of the cameras," Abbasi said during a press conference in Islamabad.
"No less than six cameras were recovered from the polling booths where the senators have to cast their votes today," he added. PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz also lashed out at the government, calling it "habitual, certified vote stealers". She said in her tweet: "They have become so panicked that they have resorted to using cameras to spy on their own members when phoning agencies proved to be futile."
Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar and Musadik Malik also approached Senate secretariat security chief with a view to ensuring that the CCTV footage from the previous couple of days is not destroyed. They sought assurance that nothing will happen to the footage. The PPP senator then told the security officer that he feared the footage of the last couple of days may be destroyed. "Sir, whatever footage we have has been saved," said the security chief, urging the PDM senators to approach the speaker of the house for further action.
"Sir, we are not party to anything," said the Senate security chief.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021