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ECP launches probe into ‘horse-trading’ in Senate polls

*Hints at seeking help from FIA, intelligence agencies

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday said it will use all powers at its disposal and might also seek help from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and intelligence agencies to probe the allegations of horse-trading in the recently held Senate elections.
Addressing the representatives of different political parties who appeared in person or through counsels before a five-member bench of the ECP to substantiate their claims of horse-trading in the Senate polls, Chief Election Commissioner Sardar Raza Khan said purchasing and selling of votes was a serious crime, adding that he wants political parties to assist the commission in this regard.
The CEC said some successful senators bagged more votes than the representation of their parties in respective provincial assemblies. “Unfortunately, those who sold their votes and those who bought both are members of parliament,” he lamented.
Eight parliamentarians had been summoned by the ECP to assist it in the case on Wednesday. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) leader Farooq Sattar were represented by their counsels whereas State Minister for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb appeared in person.
In his written reply, MQM-P chief Farooq Sattar alleged six provincial assembly members of the party ‘sold’ their votes.According to Sattar, Heer Soho, Saleem Rajput, Shazia Javed, Naila Munir, Samita Afzal and Naheed Begum voted for the opposing candidate.Sattar further stated that the party had already issued show-cause notices to these members.
PTI chief’s counsel Shahid Gondal informed the ECP that the party had formed a committee to probe reports of horse-trading and will submit a final report to the commission in this regard when the inquiry is complete.
Uzma Bukhari said PTI Senator Ch Sarwarhad himself admitted in a TV talk show that six of the PML-N lawmakers voted for him.
The next hearing of the case will be held on April 6, when the ECP has summoned more party leaders and lawmakers to assist it in the case.
Speaking to the media after the hearing, Minister of State for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb said the commission has powers under Article 20 of the constitution to investigate irregularities in elections.She said the ECP should take notice of horse-trading and question those responsible for it. “If a party with mere 30 seats gets 44 votes, it became obvious that the party has used illegal means to win extra seats,” she said.

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