Minister for Information Murtaza Solangi has reassured that all parties, including the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), are allowed to participate in the elections and that Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar's "minus Imran Khan" statement was misreported and taken out of context.
Clearing the air surrounding PM Kakar's interview where the premier hinted at the polls being held without the PTI chief, the info minister said that all political parties [including PTI] have an equal right to take part in the polls and are allowed to duly participate in the democratic process.
Solangi accentuated that, "Unfortunately, a particular part of [prime minister's] interview was taken out of context and misrepresented."
"The premier [in his interview] said to make sure that the law reigns supreme and that it will apply equally to all those who transgress it whether it be the PTI chairman or someone else," he added.
Solangi also said that it was wrongfully perceived that certain individuals would not be allowed to take part in the elections as the caretaker prime minister's remarks about elections being held without the PTI supremo were meant for those who are involved in [May 9] vandalism and arson attacks.
Punishment for crimes remains legal, however, those who aren't involved in illegal activities are free to take part in the polls, the information minister clarified.
However, there's no hindrance for any PTI leader with regards to taking part in the polls, he said.
Solangi's clarification comes as last week, PM Kakar in his interview with The Associated Press said: "Free and fair elections can take place without [Imran] Khan or hundreds of members of his party."
The prime minister's remarks received a scathing backlash from human rights organisations and different segments of society.
Earlier in the day, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) termed Kakar's remarks as "inappropriate" contending that the premier should be aware that it is not for him or his government to decide unilaterally what constitutes a ‘fair’ election.
Addressing the plethora of cases faced by the PTI leadership and workers, the human rights watchdog accentuated that "courts were yet to establish guilt in all such cases".
"The systematic way in which the PTI leadership has been dismantled in the shape of mass arrests and rearrests, forced disassociation from the party, the disproportionate number of cases filed against political leaders and workers (including in military courts) and curbs on their freedom of expression and assembly have not produced a level playing field," the HRCP statement said.
"The caretaker government must desist from making irresponsible, partisan statements on matters not within its mandate. Instead, it must ensure that an environment conducive to credible and inclusive elections is created and maintained," it added.
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