ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi wrote a letter to Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar to convey the concerns of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on the erosion of fundamental rights and a level playing field for all political parties in the coming general elections in the country.
The president also forwarded another letter attached with his letter to the Prime Minster which has been written by General Secretary of PTI Omar Ayub Khan to him (the President) about the party’s concerns and reservations for not providing a level playing field.
The president in his letter stated that it was of utmost importance that the caretaker government under the prime minister’s leadership make efforts as a neutral entity to provide a level playing field for all political parties.
“In this context, it was reassuring to hear your recent statements whereby you stated that it was the caretaker government’s policy that all registered political parties should have equal rights and opportunities to contest the forthcoming elections,” he wrote.
The president further highlighted that democracy was the only viable way forward for the State and people of Pakistan, the essence of which lay in giving people the right to partake in political activities and to be able to voice their opinions through free media.
He remarked that there was a resonance in Pakistan that for free, fair and credible elections, all political parties and leaders had a right to contest and it was up to the people to decide.
Omar Ayub Khan had conveyed his party’s concern, through a letter, on alleged erosion of fundamental rights, with particular reference to enforced disappearances, forced conversions of political loyalties, absence of a level playing field for major political parties, a crackdown on media and mistreatment of female political activists through prolonged illegal detentions.
In his letter to the prime minister, the president said that the president of Pakistan represented the unity of the Republic as Head of State under Article 41 of the Constitution of Pakistan and was, therefore, duty-bound along with the prime minister and all institutions to protect the rights of the citizens, as enshrined in the Constitution.
He said that it was for this very reason, he was sending the letter containing PTI’s allegations, that had also been debated in the media, regarding the increasing cases of enforced disappearances of individuals with known political affiliation.
He maintained that such instances became a matter of concern when such actions resulted in the conversion of political associations and/ or loyalties. He added that the issue became sensitive when female political workers were also subjected to prolonged detentions or frequent re-arrests after court relief.
The president wrote that Article 4 of the Constitution of Pakistan which clearly stipulated that it was the inalienable right of every citizen to be treated in accordance with law, while Article 17 of the Constitution provided that every citizen shall have the right to form associations and/or be a member of a political party. He further said that Article 19 of the Constitution stated that every citizen shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, and there shall be freedom of the press.
“The prime minister, being Head of Government, may, therefore, kindly look into these issues”, he stated.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023