ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Tuesday demanded caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar and Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja, to take prompt action for the recovery of their “forcibly disappeared” leaders and workers, saying it is being done to rig the polls.
In separate letters written to the caretaker prime minister and the CEC Raja, PTI Secretary General Omar Ayub Khan said that it is quite alarming that PTI leaders and workers are being picked up mysteriously.
He also mentioned the names of PTI leaders – Farrukh Habib, Sadaqat Abbasi, Usman Dar, Owais Younis, Irfan Saleem, Abdul Karim Khan and Sheikh Rasheed of Awami Muslim League – whose whereabouts are currently unknown despite being picked up by police under one pretext or another.
He said that the issue of enforced disappearances in the country is the “most serious of all the violations of the law and the Constitution and the most blatant and open form of pre-poll rigging” in the context of preparation for a free, fair, and impartial election.
The PTI leader said that the enforced disappearance of these individuals was a blatant violation of the fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution.
He underscored the urgent need for their release and for those responsible for these disappearances to be brought to justice.
“This campaign, with the sole purpose of trying to break PTI, Pakistan’s most popular political party, also makes a complete mockery of the Election Act 2017.
In the context of the very primary responsibility of caretaker governments to hold free and fair elections, this campaign of enforced disappearances violates Section 230 (1)(d) in which the caretaker government has a duty to “be impartial to every person and political party,” and Section 186 (d), in which no official can execute any act “calculated to influence the result of the election,” he wrote.
He continued that “finally, these enforced disappearances also contravene Pakistan’s commitments on several international covenants and treaties that deal with such matters, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), as well as the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (CED), which is obligatory upon Pakistan under customary international law principles.”
“Unless these people are released, and the law enforcement agencies, and any other agencies involved are reprimanded to immediately desist from such practices, I am afraid that no question exists of the upcoming elections being even remotely free or fair,” he declared.
He said that this enforced disappearance campaign was being continued with the sole purpose of trying to break the PTI, besides making a complete mockery of the Election Act, 2017.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023