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Horse trading is rife

It is now less than a month before the expiration of the tenure of several Senators who will complete their six-year term. The ECP is set to announce the schedule for the next election while a presidential reference had also been filed in the Supreme Court on holding the polls by open ballot.

The elections have created a political quagmire as the opposition has resisted moves to hold the polls by open ballot. The government attempted to introduce a bill in parliament which failed to make headway and led to a rumpus in the assembly. A presidential ordinance was then promulgated as there is no time for legislation but it has been challenged in the court by opposition parties.

Now a damning video has been released which shows how several lawmakers received bribes worth millions to vote against their party in the 2018 Senate elections. The prevalence of horse-trading in Senate elections is well-known but this is the first time a video had been leaked showing politicians sell their loyalties and their conscience for large amounts. It is shocking to see the lawmakers receive wads of cash and stuff them in bags just days before they voted in the polls.

The timings of the video’s release can be questioned but it does not imply the video is fake. The lawmakers seen in the video should challenge the clip if they believe it is defamatory. What has been proven is corruption reaches its peak ahead of the Senate elections and horse-trading is rife. Prime Minister Imran Khan said the elements involved in such practices are active once again and are attempting to repeat what transpired during the previous elections and must be stopped.

The prime minister has criticized the PDM for supporting a corruption-friendly system and making no efforts to stop the practice of horse-trading despite being in power for several decades. The political leaders are well aware that money is traded for polls did not change the system. When these politicians reach parliament then they seek to recover the amount rather than serving the nation.

The PTI is the only party that took action and had expelled twenty lawmakers in 2018 for selling their votes. The intentions of the prime minister should not be questioned as holding an open ballot is a much-needed reform. The opposition should follow suit as it will eventually strengthen democracy.


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