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Sunday, November 26, 2023

PM Kakar Affirms Possibility of Fair Elections Without Imran Khan, HRCP Reacts

The spokesperson for PTI urged PM Kakar to promptly clarify his statements, citing concerns about insensitivity within the state's structure.

Caretaker Prime Minister Kakar has made a significant statement, asserting that free and fair elections are still achievable without the involvement of Imran Khan. In a recent series of remarks, PM Kakar emphasized the importance of upholding democratic principles and ensuring an unbiased electoral process.

In a surprising turn of events, Prime Minister Kakar has expressed his confidence in the prospect of holding fair and impartial elections in Pakistan, even in the absence of Imran Khan. This statement comes amidst growing political tensions and calls for electoral reforms in the country.

He said, “free and fair elections can take place without [Imran] Khan or hundreds of members of his party, who are jailed because they [were] engaged in unlawful activities including vandalism and arson.”

PM Kakar highlighted the significance of promoting democratic values and ensuring that the upcoming elections are conducted transparently. He stressed the importance of providing a level playing field for all political parties and candidates, a sentiment that has been echoed by various opposition leaders.

In response to an inquiry, Kakar mentioned that PTI supporters currently imprisoned had participated in acts of arson, vandalism, and various unlawful actions.

He further stated, “Numerous PTI activists, who were not involved in any illegal activities, are eligible to participate in the upcoming elections.”

When questioned about the perception that the military might intervene in the upcoming elections to prevent PTI’s return to power, the interim Prime Minister responded, “I find such a notion absolutely preposterous.”

“The ECP is going to conduct the elections, not the military,” he added.

“We are not pursuing any personal vendetta,” he asserted. However, he cautioned that if the PTI chairman or any other politician violates the established rules and regulations, they will face legal consequences.

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PM Kakar also emphasized that he would not interfere with court verdicts, and he stressed that the judiciary should not be manipulated for any political purposes.

In response to the PM’s remarks regarding the upcoming general elections, a spokesperson for the former ruling party expressed strong opposition, stating, “Conducting the general election without the PTI or Imran Khan would be both unconstitutional and unethical.”

The spokesperson asserted that the PTI is the largest political party, and Khan, who was ousted from power through a parliamentary vote in April last year, remains the most popular leader in the country.

The spokesperson for PTI urged PM Kakar to promptly clarify his statements, citing concerns about insensitivity within the state’s structure. The PTI spokesperson also issued a warning, stating that the public would not accept such elections. Additionally, the caretaker premier was urged to distance his government from any perceived ulterior motives.

HRCP Reaction

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has strongly criticized Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar’s recent statements.

These comments come at a time when Imran Khan and several other PTI leaders are facing allegations of corruption and are currently in detention, following the riots that erupted after Khan’s initial arrest in May in the Al-Qadir Trust case.

The HRCP, an independent human rights watchdog, criticized Kakar’s assertions, highlighting that the guilt or innocence of these leaders has not been determined by the courts. The HRCP firmly asserted that it is not within the prime minister’s or his government’s authority to unilaterally define what constitutes a “fair” election.

The HRCP pointed out that the systematic dismantling of PTI leadership, including mass arrests, rearrests, forced disassociation from the party, numerous legal cases against political figures and workers, military court proceedings, and restrictions on their freedom of expression and assembly, has created an uneven playing field. This pattern of pre-election manipulation, as per the HRCP, was also evident in the 2018 elections.

The organization emphasized the crucial importance of conducting elections fairly, without interference or manipulation. It further condemned the re-arrest of former Punjab chief minister and PTI President Parvez Elahi, despite a Lahore High Court directive ordering his release.

The HRCP reminded the government that the primary responsibility for ensuring free and fair elections lies with the independent Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), tasked with overseeing the electoral process.

The HRCP called upon the caretaker government to refrain from making irresponsible and biased statements on matters beyond its purview. Instead, it urged the government to prioritize the creation and maintenance of an environment conducive to free, fair, credible, and inclusive elections.