Caretaker PM Kakar slammed by HRCP for remarks on Imran Khan

Caretaker PM Kakar slammed by HRCP for remarks on Imran Khan

In Islamabad, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) strongly criticized recent statements by Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar, in which he suggested that fair elections could occur without the participation of senior leaders from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), including party chairman Imran Khan.

The HRCP, in a strongly-worded statement released on Monday, condemned Kakar's remarks as "anti-democratic and ill-considered." During an interview with The Associated Press, the interim Prime Minister had remarked that fair elections could proceed without Imran Khan or numerous members of his party who are currently incarcerated due to their involvement in illegal activities, including acts of vandalism and arson.

This referred to the violence that erupted in the country following the initial arrest of the former Prime Minister in May in the Al-Qadir Trust case. Nevertheless, the interim PM mentioned that those within Imran's party who had not engaged in unlawful activities would still play a role in the political process and participate in the elections.

Observers noted that this approach seemed to align with the "minus-one formula," which involves removing a party leader while encouraging others to assume leadership roles.

These comments from the Prime Minister come at a time when PTI Chairperson Imran Khan is in custody on graft allegations, along with several other PTI leaders who were arrested following the riots on May 9th. The HRCP, an independent human rights organization, criticized Kakar's assertions, emphasizing that the guilt of these leaders in their respective cases has not been established by the courts.

The HRCP firmly stated that it is not within the authority of the Prime Minister or his government to unilaterally determine what constitutes a "fair" election. The HRCP expressed concern over a pattern of pre-election manipulation, which it argued was also evident in the 2018 elections.

The organization underscored the importance of conducting elections fairly, without interference or manipulation. The HRCP also condemned the treatment of former Punjab chief minister and PTI President Parvez Elahi, who was rearrested despite a directive from the Lahore High Court (LHC) ordering his release.

Furthermore, the HRCP reminded the government that the primary responsibility for ensuring free and fair elections lies with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), an independent body tasked with overseeing the electoral process.

The HRCP called on the caretaker government to avoid making irresponsible and biased statements on matters beyond its mandate, urging instead a focus on creating an environment conducive to free, fair, credible, and inclusive elections.