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Maryam Nawaz slams PM Imran Khan, says early Senate elections cannot save govt

Lashing out at Prime Minister Imran Khan, PML-N vice-president Maryam Nawaz said Thursday that the government will “go  home” even if it manages to hold Senate elections before schedule.

Addressing a press conference in Lahore, Maryam said: “If you are not affected by PDM (Pakistan Democratic Movement) jalsas, as you say, then why is there an emergency to hold elections — and this has never happened in Pakistan’s history.” 

Maryam asked the government why it “changed its strategy” if it is unaffected by the PDM rallies.

“They have understood that they have limited days in office […] Despite your tactics, you will have to go home,” the PML-N vice president said.

She blamed Prime Minister Imran Khan for “destroying” national institutions by dragging them into politics for his own interests.

“You became a self-proclaimed FIA (Federal Investigation Agency) chairman, you became a self-proclaimed FBR (Federal Board of Revenue) chairman, and now you want to become the chairman of the election commission,” Maryam said, in a jibe at Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Maryam said that the Election Commission of Pakistan has the authority to hold and announce elections, and it was not the prerogative of the prime minister to do so.

‘Making Supreme Court controversial’

“Have you not read the Constitution? Did your army of ministers and special assistants not inform you that it isn’t your right?” she asked, adding: “And now you want to include your desired way of elections.”

Maryam said that the prime minister was making the Supreme Court “controversial” by involving it in the matter of introducing the “show of hands” method for Senate elections.

The PML-N leader said that she was not against “show of hands”; however, Maryam claimed that the motive behind the government’s move “was not transparent”.

“You forgot the show of hands method when the vote of no-confidence motion was moved against the Senate speaker. You used the state’s machinery to influence the vote.”

Maryam claimed that not only did PM Imran Khan support the secret balloting method, but he took full advantage of it as well. “However, now that your government is slipping away […] You want to introduce the show of hands method.”

‘Govt cannot bulldoze current voting method’

Maryam said that the government could not bulldoze the current voting method via an ordinance as it required a Constitutional amendment to do so.

“The Supreme Court cannot make laws, only the Parliament can,” she stressed.

Speaking about what the PML-N aims to do against the government’s move, she said that a final decision would be made through the PDM’s platform.

“You cannot tamper with the Constitution for your personal gain, and we will not allow you to do so,” she said.

“Foreign funding case (of PTI) might be the longest pending case in Pakistan’s history. Despite the presence of irrefutable evidence, it is clear that this ‘fake’ government’ is pressuring the ECP,” she said.

Maryam, responding to a question, said that the government cannot hold an election if the Opposition resigns.

“In the photo that you shared of yourself with your dogs during PDM’s Lahore jalsa, you weren’t calming down your dogs, you were calming your own fears,” Maryam said.

‘Playing with dogs and institutions different’

She said that the fact that the photo was issued at the time reflects the premier’s “fears” and “psyche”. “Playing with dogs and state institutions are two different things. You will have to pay a heavy price for doing that,” Maryam warned the prime minister.

“Just like he is the chairman of other institutions, I believe that he is also the chairman of NAB (National Accountability Bureau),” she said while responding to a question over the apex court’s comments over the anti-graft watchdog.

Commenting on PML-N’s internal matters, she said that the party has always remained united despite “testing and trying times” in the past. “There is no divide in the party although, PML-N is going through a tough phase.”

Ali Wazir’s arrest

Maryam said that the PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif backs the PDM’s decision and that he was ready to submit his resignation. “The news circulating about (his meeting with Bilawal) is contrary to the fact.”

Talking about whether the Opposition would hold talks with the government on election reforms, she said: “This is an installed government, and the time for talks is over.”

Maryam, commenting on MNA Ali Wazir’s arrest, said that she condemns the lawmaker’s arrest. “It will cause cracks to appear in Pakistan’s unity; we are all equal Pakistanis.”

Govt decides to hold early elections

Maryam’s press conference comes after the government decided to hold Senate elections in February instead of March 2021.

The decision was taken on Tuesday during a meeting of the federal cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Addressing a post-cabinet meeting press conference, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz said that the PTI-led government is striving to make the Senate elections free and fair.

“Controversies have always surrounded the Senate elections. It is such an old practice that it is assumed that in the elections, [horse trading] will surely take place,” he said.

He said that the Supreme Court had issued a short order regarding free and fair elections, following which the government had introduced a bill in the National Assembly.

The information minister said that the government mulled over getting the bill ratified through several means — either through a constitutional amendment, executive order, or the election commission.

After pondering over the matter, the government decided to move the apex court regarding the matter, he said, adding that the government seeks an election that is conducted through “show of hands”.

Faraz said that the government expects to get guidance from the Supreme Court long before the Senate elections.

“This is in favour of all parties,” he said.

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