Karachi: A Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) office-bearer has claimed that a regular series of political reprisals against PTI workers has been continuing even after the end of the party’s government in the country.
Addressing a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Wednesday, Barrister Fayaz Samor, the Sindh general secretary of the PTI’s Lawyers Forum, said the caretaker set-up should be beyond political interests to ensure transparent elections so that people can elect their favourite party.
Samor pointed out that the PTI’s provincial chapter had filed an application with the chief election commissioner seeking permission to hold a rally in the city, but even after a long passage of time, the party had received no response to the request.
He said that after the announcement of elections, every political party has the constitutional right to start political activities and electioneering. All the political parties have started their election campaigns but the PTI has not been allowed to do so, he added.
He also said that despite the election commission’s instructions to the provincial chief secretary to provide equal opportunities to the PTI in accordance with the constitution, a massive crackdown on party workers has been launched yet again, and dozens of workers have been arrested.
On the one hand the PTI has approached the police about holding a rally, while on the other, party workers are being arrested, he added. He pointed out that holding public rallies as a political party is the PTI’s constitutional and fundamental right.
He lamented that in the face of the crackdown on political workers across the country, there is no difference between the present and the British era.
“All we want is that just like other political parties have started their election campaign after the announcement of elections, the PTI should also be given the same opportunity.”
Samor said the PTI’s lawyers had filed a petition with the court for holding a rally, and the judge ordered that there the PTI or anyone else is not banned from holding a rally.
However, he pointed out, the administration has been creating obstacles in the election activities of the PTI in violation of the court’s orders instead of implementing it.
PTI Karachi General Secretary Advocate Rehman Mahesar said that as a party official, he wrote to the city commissioner seeking permission for holding a rally, then met with the election commission and police officials to question them about the double standards.
“Our requests were received by all the administrations concerned, but we were not given written permission for the rally. Now it is the job of the election commission to allow us to hold an independent election campaign, corner meetings and other public gatherings.”
Mahesar said that when the interim chief minister had taken the oath of office, he had said he would uphold the constitution, but the people associated with the PTI are being arrested without any reason.
He asked the caretaker CM to take notice of these “illegal” arrests, saying that the province’s chief executive is “our lawyer brother who has been a member of the bar, but he is silent on the violations of the law”.
He said the administration does not want a level playing field for the PTI in the upcoming elections, adding that the party has approached every forum against the political reprisals.
A statement issued by the party quoted PTI Karachi President Khurrum Sher Zaman as saying that the party has submitted formal requests to various Sindh government departments, urging them to grant permission for the November 12 rally.
“Despite our earnest efforts to obtain the necessary approvals, we have not received any response from the authorities concerned. Recognising the importance of our democratic rights, we sought the intervention of the provincial election commission and the Sindh High Court.”
Zaman said that responding to the PTI’s plea, the election commission directed the CS in a letter dated November 4 to consider the party’s request in accordance with the law and regulations. Regrettably, he pointed out, no action has been taken thus far.
“We believe that the PTI, like all other political parties, should be given a level playing field as general elections approach. It is imperative that political victimisation comes to an end, ensuring free and fair elections for the betterment of democracy in the country.”
He said the PTI censures the recent “illegal” raids and arrests of the party’s dedicated workers by the Sindh police. “We demand their immediate release, as these actions not only infringe upon our democratic rights but also tarnish the principles of justice and fairness.”
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