PTI throws weight behind CM Bizenjo

* Imran says his party will do all it can to ensure that a PML-N candidate is not elected to Senate top slot * All 13 PTI senators will vote for Balochistan CM's nominee

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan Thursday announced to support any candidate for the slot of Senate chairman fielded by Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Quddus Bizenjo.

Addressing a joint press conference with the Balochistan chief minister in Islamabad, the PTI chief said his party will do all it can to ensure that a PML-N nominee is not elected to the Senate top slot. “All of party’s 13 senators will vote for the candidate fielded by Chief Minister Bizenjo,” Imran said, adding that the new Senate chief must belong to Balochistan and not from the ruling PML-N.

“We all must make sure that Senate chairman is not from the PML-N as they deceive the masses in the name of democracy … they [PML-N] will try to legislate for giving Nawaz Sharif a free hand to indulge in the corrupt practices,” he said. “They are attacking all institutions that refuse to work for them. They have attacked armed forces and the Supreme Court … this is not a democratic attitude,” the PTI chief said, adding that ever since the Panama Papers scandal surfaced, the PML-N leaders were trying to hide Nawaz Sharif’s corruption.

Speaking on the occasion, Balochistan chief minister thanked the PTI chief for his big-hearted support. He said Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) supremo Asif Zardari was also in contact with him. “I will try to convince him too that the Senate chairman should be from Balochistan,” he said. “We still consider [National Party chief] Hasil Bazinjo as Nawaz’s team member … and we invite him to join our team,” he added.

Earlier addressing media in Peshawar, the PTI chief said that that the current manner in which elections for the Upper House are conducted encourages horse-trading. He alleged that the secret ballot itself gives the members an opportunity to sell their votes and not be held accountable.

Imran said PTI is conducting an internal inquiry following the Senate polls, and added that some senators were bought for more than Rs 40 million. “We know who gave the money, but we don’t know who took it. This is what secret balloting does … it promotes corruption. They [lawmakers] make money without being caught.” Commending those PTI lawmakers who did not ‘sell themselves’, the PTI chairman said the party needs such individuals.

Turning to the issue of women, the PTI chief stated that he wants women to give input on the issues the party should be raising and talking about. He further stated women participation is lesser in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa when compared to other provinces and that the party would be working on different campaigns to increase participation of female voters.

Published in Daily Times, March 9th 2018.