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ISLAMABAD: In the run-up to February 2024 general elections in the country, the Australian High Commissioner to Pakistan Neil Hawkins on Tuesday called on the newly elected chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Gohar Ali Khan to discuss the overall political situation in the country.

As the top diplomats of different countries especially the British and the American ambassadors have already kicked off meetings with heads of different political parties including Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F) Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman. The Australian high commissioner is the first top diplomat who rushed straight to the PTI Central Secretariat and huddled with the flamboyant newly-elected chairman.

With Imran Khan – the founding chairman of the party – sitting in jail with nearly 200 “concocted and politically motivated” cases registered against him, the party’s new chairman, held a detailed meeting with the Australian high commissioner and apprised him about the problems being faced by the party especially depriving it with its constitutional right of a level playing field ahead of the elections.

During the meeting, they held a detailed discussion on the overall prevailing political and economic situation of the country, bilateral issues and matters of mutual interest. Besides, they also discussed the current environment for the general elections in Pakistan, opportunities for political parties to take part in elections and the overall impacts of the polls on the progress and prosperity of the country.

They shed light on the constitutional role of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) regarding holding free, fair, and transparent elections, and the ground situation.

During the meeting, the ongoing hearing against the PTI’s intra-party elections in ECP and the inordinate delay in issuance of electoral symbol of “bat” also came under discussion.

Moreover, they discussed the ongoing spree of worst human rights violations in the country particularly the condemnable series of extra-constitutional and illegal measures against women political workers.

They also discussed various aspects of the utility and necessity of a government with public mandate.

The top Australian diplomat reiterated the position of the Australian government regarding the survival and continuation of the democracy in the country, free, fair, transparent, and inclusive elections and the respect and protection of the basic human rights.

Mairi Robertson, the second secretary (political) of Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade was present on the occasion.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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