PM to oversee PTI Senate election campaign himself – Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: As the Senate election is being held on Wednesday, Prime Minister Imran Khan has cancelled all his official engagements and decided to directly supervise the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) campaign for the upper house’s polls.

Finance Minister Dr Hafeez Shaikh, PTI candidate for a seat from Islamabad, on Sunday started canvassing for the election and went door to door to meet members of National Assembly in Parliament Lodges.

The government has again levelled allegations of corruption and misuse of authority against former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, the joint candidate of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) for the Islamabad seat.

“From tomorrow (Monday) Prime Minister Khan will only focus on the Senate election and will not attend any official meeting,” a source told Dawn on Sunday.

Hafeez Shaikh meets MNAs to muster support

The source said the prime minister would directly supervise the PTI’s campaign for the Senate polls and meet MNAs of allied parties.

A tough contest between Mr Gilani and Mr Shaikh is expected on a Senate seat for Islamabad. The National Assembly is the electoral college for the seat and an interesting session of the house will be held on March 3 in which voting for the two candidates will take place.

Meanwhile, the MQM-P’s absence from an important PTI reception in Karachi has raised eyebrows of many, particularly after Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari claimed that the MQM-P would support PDM candidate in the Senate polls.

When contacted, MQM-P leader and federal Minster for Information Technology Syed Aminul Haq said his party did not attend the reception due to its own engagements. He, however, categorically said the MQM-P would support the PTI and allied parties in the polls.

He said the coordination committee of the MQM-P met on Sunday and discussed Senate elections. “The details of the meeting will be shared with the media later,” he said.

Federal Information Minister Senator Shibli Faraz said the nation knew well who stood on which side of history on the issue of transparency in the electoral system.

In a series of tweets, the minister said the opposition was supporter of the system based on rigging and a hurdle in the way of transparency, while Mr Khan stood firm with his unwavering commitment to transparency in the electoral process.

He said the opponents of open balloting in the Senate elections wanted continuation of a corrupt system.

The PTI, he continued, was the party which had led the struggle for transparency in the system and eradication of corruption.

Mr Faraz said the prime minister would never step back from his struggle to achieve these objectives.

Later, in a press conference, federal Communication Minister Murad Saeed reiterated allegations against Mr Gilani and his family.

Showing different news clips, the minister said Mr Gilani was involved in gifting official vehicles to former president Asif Ali Zardari, illegally keeping a necklace gifted by the Turkish first lady to help flood victims in Pakistan and defaulting on a bank loan.

He said the assets of Mr Gilani’s son, Abdul Qadir Gilani, had swelled more than 10 times in one year. “His (Abdul Qadir) assets in 2008 were Rs8.5 million and the next year they amounted to Rs72m,” the minister said.

He claimed that there was no match between Mr Gilani and Mr Shaikh as the former had remained involved in corruption and sought an NRO while the latter was a technocrat and educated man.

Mr Saeed claimed that the PTI would not only win Senate polls but would also form its government in Sindh for the first time.

Published in Dawn, March 1st, 2021