News Analysis |
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed grave concerns at the escalating threat to independent candidate Jibran Nasir in Karachi.
In a statement issued on Sunday, the HRCP condemned “the violence and malice that has dogged Mr Nasir’s election campaign. It is of serious concern to the Commission that local clerics and supporters of the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) have reportedly incited charged mobs to engage in violence to prevent him from canvassing.”
“No member of the public or of any state institution has any right whatsoever to question – or indeed, to demand he prove – his faith. The frightening implications this could have for Mr. Nasir’s personal safety and that of his political workers should be lost on no one – least of all the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the caretaker government.”
The HRCP further stated, “the constant vitriol of TLP supporters such as cleric Naveed Abbasi violates the ECP’s code of conduct for political parties. Given that the TLP has been accorded the status of a legitimate party, HRCP demands that the ECP disqualify any TLP (or other) candidates linked to inciting such violence and provide Mr Nasir with proper security.”
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Jibran Nasir is a vocal human rights activist and maintains strong views about the alleged military’s intervention in state affairs and extremism in the country. Mr. Nasir has several times in the past been threatened but he has refused to budge and has continued to raise voice for the downtrodden masses in the country.
Jibran Nasir, a lawyer by profession, is contesting elections from NA-247 Karachi. He also contested elections in 2013 but failed to win a seat. Jibran Nasir, while talking to media about the threats he is facing, stated that he will not be intimidated by anyone and will continue to express his opinions bluntly since the Constitution of Pakistan has bestowed him with this right.
The lawyer-activist rebuffed the idea of joining any political party sooner or later; instead, he plans on building a new political party with likeminded individuals from all walks of life representing all economic, ethnic, religious, and gender groups.
“There is hardly any recognition for merit, expertise, integrity. The tragic result is in front of us. Those who can serve the country best either shy away from politics or not allowed to enter without compromising on their principles. And we are left at the mercy of an apathetic ruling elite,” he remarked.
“The youth of this country has the potential to change the political landscape of Pakistan and for that, we cannot afford to wait for opportunities. We need to believe in ourselves, take the initiative and create opportunities.” Nasir said that his campaign team itself will be reflective of the party he plans to build.
The verbal attacks on Mr.Nasir and threats he is receiving indicates rising extremism in the country. This phenomenon has exacerbated in recent years due to various political parties trying to appease religious elements to gain votes. The permission to various extremists groups to contest 2018 elections is also worrisome since it will allow such forces to strengthen their foothold in the country.
The best way to counter these elements is by ensuring the smooth flow of democracy in the country and ensuring the provision of fundamental rights to the populace. By guaranteeing free speech and ensuing free and fair elections, Pakistan can counter extremism and all other challenges Mr. Nasir pledges to counter.