HRCP expresses concern over lack of level playing field in run-up to Feb 8 polls


ISLAMABAD: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on Monday expressed concerns about the lack of a level playing field granted to certain political parties in the run-up to the upcoming February 8 general election.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, HRCP co-chairperson Munizae Jahangir said that the current situation was not the usual atmosphere present ahead of the general elections, adding that this would weaken democracy.

“Our concern is that there will always remain a question mark on whichever government is formed as a result of this,” she said. Jahangir added that elections needed to be transparent in order to prevent any questions that may arise.

Responding to a question, she said the commission had not shied away from saying that the PTI was subjected to “systematic dismemberment”, adding that the body had mentioned the issue several times.

“I think we all know how the non-elected people have used their influence to monitor or direct politicians. We want the caretaker government and Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to assert themselves and fulfil the responsibilities of carrying out free and fair elections that have been entrusted to them,” she said.

Meanwhile, human rights activist and former senator Farhatullah Babar lamented that pre-poll rigging was already being carried out, pointing to how candidates were barred from filing their nomination papers and how their proposers were harassed.

“I think the biggest threat from this is that if elections happen, people will lose their trust in them and when the people no longer have trust in the polls, then there will be no trust in the government established as a result of the elections,” he said.

He warned that the current political uncertainty would further worsen and the state of human rights would further deteriorate.