PM Imran backs Sanjrani as PDM names Gilani for Senate Chairman

ISLAMABAD – Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday expressed the hope that Sadiq Sanjrani, being a strong candidate for the top Senate slot, would win the election by defeating Yousuf Raza Gilani who has been named as a joint candidate of the 11-party opposition alliance.

Talking to Senator Faisal Javed and Senator Zeeshan Khanzada, Imran Khan said that the government is taking measures to ensure transparency in the next Senate elections. “We are taking measures to ensure that next Senate elections would be held through the open ballot,” said Imran Khan. He maintained that the government will introduce legislation to stop use of money in the next Senate elections.

Sadiq Sanjrani is a strong candidate for the top Senate slot, he said and hoped that he would win the election. 

Imran Khan lashed out at PDM’s joint candidate for the post of Senate chairman, former premier Yousaf Raza Gilani, stating that the PPP leader had “destroyed the concept of morality in politics and the entire nation is watching his actions”.

“The Opposition used money to win the Islamabad seat,” he said, referring to Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh’s surprise loss to former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. Former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had emerged victorious against the ruling party’s Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh.

After the result was announced, Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and the former prime minister had shaken hands and hugged each other. The news of Hafeez’s defeat was told to him by Zain Qureshi who was the minister’s polling agent following which the two men had embraced each other.

Gilani had secured 169 votes while Shaikh received 164 votes. Out of the total number of 341 votes, 6 were rejected and 1 was not polled. Gilani’s certificate of election for the Senate seat was also issued by the ECP. 

In a related development, Prime Minister asked PTI’s spokesperson to effectively promote party’s narrative on Senate elections. Addressing PTI’s spokespersons , Imran Khan lashed out at the Opposition, claiming that money was used to influence not only the Islamabad seat’s results in the Senate elections but also in seats for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa elections for the upper house.

‘I know very well which senator was offered what’

The PTI chairperson said that his party’s senators were already receiving offers to sell their votes for the upcoming Senate elections. “ I know very well which senator was offered what,” said the prime minister.

The premier continued his criticism of the Election Commission of Pakistan, saying that its role had been controversial in the recent Senate polls.

The prime minister urged party representatives to highlight the issue of the Opposition allegedly buying votes in the Senate elections, adding that the PPP and the PML-N have been using money as a tool to influence elections in the past as well.

Imran Khan asserted that these people first spend money to get elected and then spend the same money on illegal activities.

Also, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday chaired a meeting regarding the government’s direct subsidy to the needy and poor people of the society for buying of food and other essential items.

The meeting was attended by Minister for Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Minister for Industries Muhammad Hammad Azhar, Adviser to Prime Minister on Institutional Reforms Dr Ishrat Hussain, Special Assistant to PM Waqar Masood, Special Assistant to PM for Social Protection Dr Sania Nishtar, Governor State Bank of Pakistan Dr Raza Baqir and secretaries and senior officers of the relevant ministries.

The prime minister was given detailed briefing on the proposed Ehsaas food stamp programme. Special Assistant Dr Sania Nishtar in the detailed briefing to the Prime Minister informed about the methodology and contours of the proposed programme.

The aim of the direct subsidy programme was to give financial assistance to the poor so that they could buy essential items. The Prime Minister said every effort was being made to lessen the burden of inflation on the poor people.“ It is our responsibility to give relief to the poor. We completely realise our responsibility and we will go to any extent to fulfill it,” he added. 

He said it was top priority of the present government to provide the subsidy in a transparent and effective manner. The Prime Minister instructed participants of the meeting to finalise the method with complete facts and figures regarding the proposed programme so that it could be launched as early as possible.

Meanwhile, : The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) on Monday failed to convince the other Opposition parties of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) for in-house change in Punjab and Centre.

A source within the meeting told The Nation that a very strong disagreement has surfaced between the three major Opposition parties of PDM as PPP was in favour of bringing in-house change in Punjab and Centre however, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Jamiat Ulema e Islam (JUI) disagreed with the proposal of PPP and proposed free elections across the country.

The disagreement between the major parties on the issue surfaced in yesterday’s meeting of PDM when PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari asked PML-N for its support in Punjab for the in-house change which was strongly opposed by PML-N Chief Nawaz Sharif who participated in the meeting through video link.

The source further said that Nawaz Sharif while addressing the meeting said that the goal of PDM was not to bring in-house change with the help of establishment but to fight against the non-democratic force and give back respect to vote. 

Nawaz further said that the Opposition should not join hands with the forces that have already joined with the government and caused grave damage to democracy and civil supremacy, sources revealed.

Meanwhile, the JUI Chief and head of PDM endorsed the proposal of Nawaz Sharif and proposed free and fresh elections across the country.

While talking to the media after the meeting PDM head Maulana Fazlur Rehman said that the Opposition has nominated Yousaf Raza Gillani for the slot of Chairman Senate through a joint consensus.

He stated that for the seat of Deputy Chairman Senate a committee under the supervision of Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was formed to finalise the name for the slot of Deputy Chairman.

Talking about anti-government long march Maulana Fazlur Rehman said that the rallies of long march will start their journey towards Islamabad on March 26; adding that the rallies of Opposition workers will reach Islamabad on March 30.

He further said that the people of Pakistan should come out and extend their support to Opposition in order to get rid of the fake and selected government. 

Maulana announced that PDM will once again meet on March 15 to discuss the plan for the long march.

Criticising the spat between the PTI workers and PML-N leadership earlier, Maulana Fazl said that the attack on PML-N senior leadership from the PTI workers was a shameful act which must be condemned.

On the occasion PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that the government by challenging the victory of Yousaf Raza Gillani in the Election Commission of Pakistan proved that PTI had accepted its defeat in the Senate. 

He stated that the government wanted to stop the victory of the Opposition’s candidate by using the un-democratic tactics.

Talking about the non-confidence movement Bilawal Bhutto said that he had held a meeting with Hamza Shehbaz and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi and now the PDM will decide about how and when to bring a no-confidence motion in Punjab Assembly.

Meanwhile, PML-N Vice President Maryyam Nawaz said that their goal was not to bring in-house change in the Assemblies; stating that they wanted fresh elections and will once again form its government in Punjab.

Criticising the government over the Senate elections, Maryyam Nawaz said that why the government had announced its candidate for the Senate Chairman despite the fact that the government was in no position to win as they had no enough numbers; stating that the government will use money in bid to win the Senate Chairman slot.

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