The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed concern over Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar’s comments suggesting that transparent elections can occur without the involvement of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leadership.
In a recent interview, PM Kakar stated that credible polls were possible even in the absence of PTI Chairman Imran Khan, who is currently detained due to the cipher case. The PM remarked that the elections could proceed without Khan or numerous other incarcerated PTI members accused of illicit actions.
However, the HRCP, in response, pointed out that courts have yet to determine the guilt of those implicated. The commission underscored that the prime minister’s comments were misplaced, emphasizing that deciding what makes an election ‘fair’ doesn’t rest solely with the government.
Furthermore, HRCP expressed alarm over the targeted suppression of PTI leadership through large-scale arrests and re-arrests, coercion to abandon party affiliations, and extensive legal cases, which they believe undermines a level playing field for elections. This pattern, reminiscent of pre-election interference observed in 2018, is distressing. The HRCP specifically denounced the re-arrest of former chief minister and PTI President Parvez Elahi against the Lahore High Court’s directives. They highlighted that the onus of safeguarding impartial elections rests with the Election Commission of Pakistan.
The HRCP further advised the interim government to refrain from making unwarranted, biased remarks outside their jurisdiction and foster a favourable climate for reliable and inclusive elections.