Tuesday July 16, 2024

‘Political victimisation’: PTI writes to UN, other international bodies

PTI urged the global forums to take “urgent notice” of the situation

By News Desk & Sohail Khan
March 26, 2023
Former National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser speaks to media outside Supreme Court on March 20, 2023. — Online
Former National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser speaks to media outside Supreme Court on March 20, 2023. — Online

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has approached Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and other global forums against the ‘political victimisation, assassination attempts and attacks on PTI’, the largest political party of the country.

The IPU is made up of 179 member parliaments, including the UK, France, Germany, Australia, Canada, Japan, and 14 associate members.

Besides the IPU, Asad Qaisar also approached the United Nations, European Parliament, House of Commons, House of Lords, US House of Representatives, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), High Commissioners and United Nations Human Rights Council.

The letter has been written by Asad Qaiser — former National Assembly speaker — as he felt it was his responsibility to inform the various forums of the world about the “illegal policies and severe violations” of human rights by this “fascist government”.

Through his letter, the former speaker urged the global forums to take “urgent notice” of the situation and “play your role in protecting the people of Pakistan from the monster of political genocide, the annihilation of democracy and mayhem.”

“As [a] former speaker, the National Assembly of Pakistan, I am compelled to reach out and inform you of the alarmingly violent situation in Pakistan, severe and grave violations of human rights including, abduction, assassination attempts, custodial torture, enforced disappearances, inhuman treatment and murder or eminent journalists and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) political workers, leaders, former and current Members of Parliament, including [the] former prime minister of Pakistan, the current Chairman Tehreek-Insaf, Mr. Imran Ahmed Niazi by the present PDM government in Pakistan in connivance with the law enforcement agencies,” he wrote.

Informing the global forums that the PTI is the most popular political party in Pakistan, Qaiser told the IPU that after heavy political horse trading in “peculiar” political circumstances, the party resigned from the parliament to get a fresh mandate from the people of Pakistan.

He claimed that despite being in an “oppressed opposition”, the PTI have won 30 out of 37 by-elections with more than a 50% margin against twelve political parties — which are a part of the coalition government.

“The current government, in collaboration with two caretaker governments in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces, have committed such heinous crimes to suppress political dissent by the PTI and have adopted such ignominious methods, that the basic tenets of decency, humanity and all international covenants on human rights are hanging by a tether,” the former speaker wrote.

He went on to say that the “fake criminal complaint” was filed against the PTI chief to force his way out of politics. This was followed by a “coordinated assassination attempt” on the life of Imran Khan, wherein he sustained multiple bullet wounds and fractures along with 11 others that were injured and one passerby murdered.

“Till date, he has not been allowed to exercise his constitutionally mandated right to induct the suspects involved and file a case against the accused persons in the attempted assassination of a former prime minister,” he mentioned.

On November 3, Imran was shot on his leg, which he termed as an assassination attempt, since then his supporters have surrounded his residence in Lahore with tents in the past few months to defend and protect their leader.

“As of today, 127 fake and baseless” cases have been filed against the PTI chief’s residence and family has been attacked more than once and arrested without cause. PTI chief’s supporters are harassed and beaten daily on one pretext or another. Famous investigative journalist Arshad Sharif was murdered during an investigation into official corruption by those in power.

The PTI leader further added that the superior judiciary of Pakistan is under severe attack by the PDM government, which has released a series of “fake audio/videos” in an attempt to blackmail them.

“If this was not enough, steps are now being taken over to ban PTI as a political party followed by an unconstitutional refusal by the state institutions to hold elections for two assemblies in violation of clear orders of the Supreme Court.

“The current Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has gone so far as to term to the party workers’ militants for resisting violence and his niece, Maryam Nawaz, a party leader has made genocidal statements about the ethnicity of mainstream political workers.”

Meanwhile, talking to Geo News in its show Naya Pakistan, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) leader Talal Chaudhry claimed that if some other (political) party had written to the world forums, it would have been declared as traitor. He said the PTI was a blue-eyed party and it could drag the US into Pakistan’s internal matters at its own sweet will.

The ruling party leader also denied the arrest of PTI social media activist Azhar Mashwani, saying that Imran Khan was telling a lie.

Sohail Khan adds: The PTI, meanwhile, requested the Supreme Court to declare the order of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) postponing elections in Punjab as illegal and unconstitutional.

The PTI, its General Secretary Asad Umer, Punjab Assembly Speaker Sibtain Khan, Khyber Pakhthunkhwa Assembly Speaker Mushtaq Ahmed Ghani and two Punjab Assembly members filed a petition in the apex court under Article 184(3) of the Constitution.

It has made the ECP and Federation of Pakistan through Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, Ministry of Law and Justice, Cabinet Division secretary, Punjab and KP chief secretaries and KP governor as respondents

Filed through Barrister Ali Zafar, the PTI submitted in the plea that the order passed by the ECP on March 22, 2023, announcing the date of elections to the Punjab Assembly as 08.10.2023, is in violation of the Constitution as well as the Supreme Court judgement of 01.03.2023.

It prayed the apex court to declare the ECP order as illegal, unconstitutional, void ab initio and set aside the same besides directing the commission to hold the elections to the provincial assembly of Punjab on the 30th of April, 2023 as announced and decided by the President of Pakistan in pursuance of the Supreme Court judgment and announced by the ECP, and further direct the electoral body to ensure that elections are held on April 30.

The PTI further prayed the apex court to direct the federal government and the Punjab interim set-up to assist the ECP in the discharge of holding elections to the Punjab Assembly on April 30, including the provisions of funds, security, personnel and maintenance of law and order, as may be required by the commission for holding elections.

Similarly, it prayed the apex court to direct the KP governor to fix the date of elections to the provincial assembly forthwith.

The PTI contended that by passing the order on March 22, 2023, the ECP has committed a hat-trick of blatant constitutional violations as it subverted and amended the Constitution by increasing the period for holding the elections from 90 days to 267 (ii) overruled/ set aside the Supreme Court judgemnt of March 1 and replaced the constitutional announcement of the date of elections by the president with its own arbitrarily set date of October 8, 2023.

“ECP’s order dated 22-03-2023 is hence illegal, ultra vires of the Constitution, null and void and liable to be set aside accordingly,” the plea said.

It recalled that in the March 1 judgment, the Supreme Court anticipating that there could be excuses made for delaying the election beyond the constitutional deadline of 90 days, also directed that all the executive authorities, federal and caretaker governments were to provide whatever facilities (including the provision for funds, security and personnel) as may be required by the ECP to hold and conduct elections on the date fixed.

After the judgment of the apex court, the PTI submitted the president, in consultation with the ECP, announced April 30 as the date of elections for Punjab Assembly, and the ECP announced the election schedule accordingly. On the other hand, the KP governor, to the contrary, did not follow the judgment, and a contempt petition has been filed against him.

“However, in defiance and subversion of the Constitution and violation of the judgment of the Supreme Court, [the] ECP has unilaterally, vide the impugned order dated 22.03.2023, changed the date of holding of elections in the Punjab Assembly and decided that the elections will be held on 08.10.2023,” the PTI contended.

It submitted that the petition was filed directly in the Supreme Court because undoubtedly the matter involved in the petition is of public importance with reference to enforcement of fundamental rights of the millions of people of Pakistan, particularly the people of Punjab and KP.

“There can be no denial that the right to democratic, constitutional governance and to have a representative, duly elected legislature and government is an integral part of the right to life and dignity.”

The PTI questioned as to whether the ECP has the power to unilaterally amend the Constitution by extending the date of elections beyond the period of 90 days as mandated. And if the commission has the jurisdiction to overrule and review the Supreme Court decision.

“This court gave comprehensive direction that elections to be held not later than 90 days,” the PTI submitted; however, added that the court held: “If such a course is not available, then the Election Commission shall in like manner propose a date for the holding of the poll that deviates to the barest minimum from the aforesaid deadline.”

The PTI further submitted that the ECP had also usurped its power and authority by having announced the next poll day – 08-10-2023. In fact, the Election Commission could not have withdrawn the election schedule altogether at all once this court had directed that election had to take place.

“The reasons given by ECP relating to the financial constraints and security situation of the country and non-availability of adequate personnel are not valid because there is no assurance that the financial and security situations of the country will improve by the arbitrary date of 08.10.2023,” the PTI further contended.

It submitted that the so-called excuse for law and order would mean that the Constitution can always be held in abeyance on this ground every time the elections are due under the Constitution.

“The history of Pakistan unfortunately is replete with many incidents occurring in various parts of the country but elections have been held in spite of same and such incidents cannot be used as an excuse to subvert the constitutional machinery and deny people right to elect their representative. Not holding elections in case of threats by terrorists will amount to giving in to the threats, which is in fact the aim of all terrorist activities.”

Similarly, it contended that other excuse given by ECP relating to financial constraints is also not a reason for delaying the elections inter alia because the Constitution does not recognise financial constraint as the reason to delay the election.