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PM Kakar’s statement on elections sans PTI chief ‘ill judged’: HRCP – SUCH TV

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) takes strong exception to Caretaker Prime Minister Anwarul Haq Kakar’s statement that fair elections were possible without the participation of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf senior leadership including the party chairperson, who is currently incarcerated in a graft case, and other leaders who were jailed following the 9 May riots.

“Given that the courts have yet to establish guilt in all such cases, Kakar’s claims are anti-democratic and ill judged,” the HRCP said in a statement.

“The prime minister should be aware that it is not for him or his government to decide unilaterally what constitutes a ‘fair’ election,” the HRCP said.

The human rights watchdog said: “The systematic way in which the PTI leadership has been dismantled — in the shape of mass arrests and rearrests, forced disassociation from the party, the disproportionate number of cases filed against political leaders and workers (including in military courts), and curbs on their freedom of expression and assembly — has not produced a level playing field.”

“This is cause for concern because it perpetuates a pattern of pre-election manipulation that was also visible in 2018,” the HRCP said and condemned the treatment meted out to former chief minister and PTI President Parvez Elahi, who was rearrested against the directive of the Lahore High Court.

“The HRCP reminds the government that responsibility for ensuring free and fair elections falls to the Election Commission of Pakistan. The caretaker government must desist from making irresponsible, partisan statements on matters not within its mandate. Instead, it must ensure that an environment conducive to free, fair, credible and inclusive elections is created and maintained,” it said.

Earlier, in an interview with The Associated Press, Kakar had asserted that “fair” elections can still be conducted in Pakistan without the presence of the PTI chairman.

However, the interim prime minister had emphasised that thousands of PTI members, who were not involved in “unlawful activities,” will actively participate in the political process and take part in the upcoming elections.

His remarks came in the wake of the recent announcement by the Election Commission of Pakistan that national polls will be held in the last week January next year.

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