Fair electoral process

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The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has raised a crucial alarm regarding the upcoming general elections scheduled for February 8. HRCP members expressed reservations about the current election atmosphere and called upon the interim government and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to ensure a level playing field for all political parties.
The PTI’s strong reservations against alleged bias in the “state machinery” due to rejected nomination papers and potential loss of their iconic symbol add to the concerns. HRCP Co-chair Munizae Jahangir highlighted the perceived differential treatment of a specific political party, alluding to the PTI.
According to a news report published on these pages, amidst the turbulent journey to the polls, the HRCP emphasized the need for free, fair, and transparent elections to propel the country towards democratic progress. The recurrent pattern of arrests, lack of transparency in charges, crackdowns on assembly rights, enforced disappearances, and widespread rejection of candidates’ nomination papers signals a challenging road to democratic expression.
The fundamental principles of freedom of opinion, expression, and assembly must be upheld, ensuring that civic spaces remain open for people to freely express their will ahead of a national election. The HRCP calls on the interim government, relevant departments, and especially the ECP to take pragmatic steps in addressing these concerns as a matter of priority.
This has assumed a familiar pattern, including arrests of party workers and supporters, lack of transparency concerning the charges involved, crackdowns on party workers’ right to peaceful assembly, enforced disappearances, obvious signs of pressure on party leaders to resign or exit politics altogether and, most recently, the large-scale rejection of candidates’ nomination papers.
The HRCP has called upon the government and Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for providing level playing field to all political parties and allay concerns of the electorates in this regard.
The overall objective of the electoral process is to enable citizens to voice their concerns and elect representatives who can address their problems. Every voter has the right to choose a specific candidate without undue influence or obstacles.
It is imperative for the interim government and the ECP to address these concerns promptly, ensuring that the elected government, emerging from a transparent process, takes charge of the country. Only through free, fair, and transparent elections can Pakistan progress towards a stronger democratic foundation.