Wednesday Mar 03, 2021
ISLAMABAD: Shortly after a scandalous video of Ali Haider Gilani instructing PTI MPs on how to waste their vote made headlines on Tuesday, additional recordings were 'leaked' to the media, adding fuel to the controversy surrounding corrupt practices in the Senate elections.
The recordings — alleged to be of discussions between lawmakers and a telephonic conversation between PPP's Punjab MPA Ali Haider Gilani (son of former prime minister and Senate hopeful Yusuf Raza Gilani) and Sindh Local Government Minister Nasir Hussain Shah — emerged shortly after a video of Ali Haider instructing a lawmaker on how his vote could be wasted in the Senate election.
Ali Haider's father is contesting the Senate elections against PTI candidate Abdul Hafeez Shaikh from Islamabad in what is arguably the most-anticipated result today evening.
It is worth noting that Ali Haider had stated — before the additional recordings were leaked — in a public press conference that the person in the video was indeed him and that he had met 'friends' from the PTI to muster support for his father. However, he denied that any talk about any monetary offers had taken place.
The PTI 'friends' were said to be four in number and from the National Assembly.
However, in the leaked audio recordings that followed Ali Haider's press conference, multiple people could be heard discussing 'offers' worth tens of millions of rupees allegedly being made to lawmakers for their votes ahead of the Senate polls.
A man, alleged to be Ali Haider, can be heard saying in one of the recordings that he has spoken to Nasir Shah, who asked him to bring down the demands made by the PTI MPs for hire.
An assurance is given in the audio that, apart from the other incentives offered, development work can be done in constituencies as per the wishes of the PTI lawmakers.
“We could carry out uplift projects worth around Rs100 million,” says the voice being attributed to Ali.
The voice is also heard remarking that it would be difficult for the MPs for hire to carry money if payments are made to them in cash, as it would attract attention.
The same voice then seemingly makes a telephone call and starts the conversation by saying that some ‘friends’ (the PTI lawmakers) are standing with him and want to talk.
“Tell all four of them that they will be taken care of,” the voice on the other end of the line responds. This voice is said to be of Sindh minister Nasir Shah.
The conversation revolves around haggling over the demands that have been made, with the PTI MPs promising their support and votes but insisting that what they have asked for is given to them.
However, in later interviews to the media, Nasir Shah distanced himself from the controversy and insisted that the voice in the audio clip was not his.
Speaking on Geo News programme 'Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Ke Saath', Shah said his voice is not in the audio clip and nor has he spoken to anyone on the matter.
Countering him, Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry, also a guest on the show, said the Election Commission of Pakistan can "confirm if it is Shah's voice within an hour".
Before the audio clip, a video of Ali giving 'advice' to PTI lawmakers on how to waste their votes had gone viral.
He later held a press conference where he admitted it was him in the video, but refuted the claim that he was going around buying Senate votes.
It is worth pointing out again that the 'additional' audio and video clips of the meeting in question were released after the press conference concluded.
Ali had said he had met "a lot of people" whilst campaigning for his father for the Senate elections.
"All the NA members [I met] are our constituents," he had said. "All of them are honourable for us."
Ali had then lashed out at the prime minister, accusing him of attempting to earn his lawmakers' loyalty by issuing development funds to them.
He had said that he had met the PTI lawmakers to secure votes for his father, adding that it was his right to do so by law.
"Not just once, I will meet them a hundred times as it is my right to do so," he continued, "We have sought the 'vote of conscience' in every election. We don't believe in buying or selling votes or securing them through intimidation."
You can read more about his press conference here.
Allegations in the video are baseless: Yusuf Raza Gilani
Responding to the controversial video, Yusuf Raza said the allegations levelled against his son are "baseless," adding that those [who leaked the video] have no clue who is featured in it.
Later, an ECP spokesperson said that the Commission has taken notice of the developments and will investigate the matter.