Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Secretary General Omar Ayub Khan Tuesday demanded urgent and serious action against "enforced disappearances" of five of his party's politicians and former federal minister and Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmad, terming it a "part of a pre-poll rigging campaign against PTI" and "most serious of all the violations of the law and the Constitution".
In separate letters addressing caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar and Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, the politician said his party hopes that the matter will be treated with the urgency and seriousness it deserves, requesting them to take note of what is happening and ensuring the recovery of the victims which also includes names of several PTI supporters, party Chairman Imran Khan’s staff and journalists as well.
Omar wrote that no question exists of the upcoming elections being even remotely free or fair, unless the politicians are released, and the law enforcement agencies, and any other agencies involved are reprimanded to immediately desist from such practices.
omar, in the letters on behalf of the party's core committee, wrote that both PM Kakar and Raja pass "immediate and clear instructions to the government to produce these people and immediately desist from such activities in the future."
The former minister, in his letters, shared a list of "missing" politicians which includes former lawmaker Sadaqat Ali Abbasi; former special assistant to the prime minister Usman Dar; PTI ticket holder from Lahore, Abdul Kareem Khan; PTI Lahore Secretary Information Awais Younus; former state minister Farrukh Habib; and AML Chief Sheikh Rashid — all of whom have been missing since September 1, 10, 19, 19 27, and 17, respectively.
In both letters, the contents of which are the same, the senior PTI politico referred to the enforced disappearances as the "most blatant and open form of pre-poll rigging" happening in Pakistan, stating that individuals linked to PTI are being "illegally arrested and disappeared" with impunity.
"Behind each disappearance, remember that there are families suffering, mothers and fathers, wives, brothers and sisters, and children," he added in his letters, which were also sent to four caretaker chief ministers.
Khan wrote that the enforced disappearances are in direct violation of several articles of the Constitution of Pakistan, including Article 9 (Security of person), Article 10 (Safeguards as to arrest and detention — under which anyone detained in custody must be produced before a magistrate within 24 hours), Article 10A (Right to fair trial) and Article 14 (Inviolability of dignity of man and — which protects the privacy of homes and bans any form of torture in custody); as well as the constitutionally guaranteed right of life.
"This campaign, with the sole purpose of trying to break PTI, Pakistan’s most popular political party, also makes a complete mockery of the Election Act 2017," Khan added.
In the context of the very primary responsibility of caretaker governments to hold free and fair elections, the letter read that this campaign of enforced disappearances violates Section 230 (1)(d) in which the caretaker government has a duty to “be impartial to every person and political party”, and Section. 186 (d), in which no official can execute any act “calculated to influence the result of the election."
He also mentioned that the disappearances also contravene Pakistan’s commitments on several international covenants and treaties that deal with such matters, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), as well as the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (CED).
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