Pakistan human rights body says upcoming elections unlikely to be free and fair


ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan's independent human rights commission said Monday there is little chance of the country holding free and fair parliamentary elections next month due to "pre-poll rigging." Concern was also expressed about the officers rejection of candidature Former Prime Minister Imran Khan and most other members of his party.

At a press conference in Islamabad, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan co-chairperson Muniza Jahangir said other political parties had been victims of similar tactics to varying degrees.

Jahangir said, "At this time, there is little evidence to show that the upcoming elections will be free, fair, or credible."

He said Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party or PTI is being "systematically divided" and the rejection of nomination papers of most of its candidates has raised questions on the country's Election Commission.

People should be allowed to vote for the candidate of their choice on February 8, he said, and "there are concerns that the electoral process is being misrepresented."

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Jahangir condemned the state's "crackdown" on dissent, saying it has further limited civil discussion at a time when Pakistanis should be allowed to freely express their views in view of the upcoming elections.

Veteran human rights leader Farhatullah Babar said the Election Commission's decision to keep Khan and other PTI members from voting was "clear pre-poll rigging".

He said that it is the duty of the caretaker government of Pakistan to ensure free and fair elections and the Election Commission is responsible for providing level playing field to all political parties.

Babar warned that some of the country's main parties would not accept the results of a rigged election and that a disputed vote would create more political instability.

Khan is currently in jail and serving his sentence Three years imprisonment for corruption, Many other allegations have also been made against him, which has made it difficult for him to contest elections. Despite knowing that his nomination papers could be rejected, Khan sought to run for a seat in the National Assembly through his legal team.

According to election officials, Khan was barred from contesting the elections due to his conviction.

His disqualification was a fresh blow to the 71-year-old former cricketer, who is the country's most popular opposition figure. After this he was removed from the post in April 2022 vote of no confidence by his political opponents in Parliament.

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