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There’s little or no doubt about the fact that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is fully alienated and distrustful of the caretaker setup in the country.

In a letter to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the party has urged the electoral watchdog to fulfill its constitutional and legal responsibilities and take “practical measures” to ensuring providing a level playing field for the elections by “putting a halt on the ongoing state coercive actions and revengeful steps against PTI and its leaders as well as workers”.

The party has argued that the Chief Election Commissioner’s (CEC’s) letters to federal and provincial caretaker governments for providing a level playing field to political parties “have served no purpose since no respite has been witnessed in the ongoing oppression and suppression against PTI leaders and its supporters hitherto”.

It is increasingly clear that the current interim setup in the country has been demonstrating a lot of hostility towards PTI from the day one.

The caretaker prime minister, Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, in particular, appears to be harboring rancor or hatred towards the party and its leadership for some right or wrong reasons.

The caretaker chief ministers of Punjab and KPK are no less belligerent towards a party that is already in disarray since the May 9 incidents that led to the arrests of some of its key leaders in both KPK and Punjab.

It is quite apparent that the electioneering in the absence of these leaders has already become an arduous task for the party leadership that is outside the bars. The palpable antagonism on the part of the caretaker setup is adding insult to the injury.

The election commission, in my view, is required to take the caretaker setup to task for its highly anti-PTI biased approach without any further loss of time.

The election commission must not risk losing its own credibility and integrity by appeasing a government which is found to have been exceeding its constitutional mandate.

In other words, the election commission must not turn itself into a handmaiden for a setup that doesn’t appear to be interim in view of the fact that the caretaker governments in both Punjab and KPK in particular have given a new meaning to the word “interim” through their protracted stay.

Siraj Ghumman

Daska, Punjab

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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