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Pak election commission criticises President Alvi for making inappropriate moves ahead of Feb 8 elections

Islamabad: Pakistan’s election commission has accused President Arif Alvi of making inappropriate moves after he rallied behind concerns raised by jailed former prime minister Imran Khan’s party demanding a level playing field in the next general elections.

Pakistan, which is facing both political and economic instability, is going to polls on February 8.

Alvi, who was a founding member of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) before being appointed as President in 2018, is frequently accused of siding with the jailed prime minister’s party on political issues.

In a recent letter to caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar ul Haq Kakar, Alvi said the president of Pakistan represented the unity of the republic as head of state under the Constitution and was, therefore, duty-bound along with the premier and all institutions to protect the rights of the citizens, the Express Tribune newspaper reported.

Alvi said, it was for this very reason, that he was sending the letter containing PTI’s allegations, which had also been debated in the media, regarding the increasing cases of enforced disappearances of individuals with known political affiliation.

The president asked interim Prime Minister Kakar to look into these issues.

Expressing its strong discontent over the president’s move, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in a statement said, “An attempt is being made by a high official to make the transparency of the upcoming election suspicious.”

“This behaviour is not appropriate,” it said, adding that the ECP is determined that the elections will be fair and transparent, and the same will be ensured.

Caretaker Information Minister Murtaza Solangi also berated Alvi for advocating for the PTI party’s line.

In a post on X, the interim government’s spokesperson said the statements made by the president in connection with the upcoming general election seemed to be in conflict with his constitutional role.

Solangi urged Alvi to allow the constitutional institutions, specifically the ECP, to perform their duties without interference.

“The whole nation desires that the President plays his role as the symbol of the federation and not give such an impression that people would see him as the spokesperson of a party,” he said.

Meanwhile, the PTI in a statement alleged that the “state’s atrocities” against the party have intensified after the date of the next general elections was announced by the ECP.

The party claimed that the series of ‘kidnapping of PTI leaders for statements’ by some state institutions was still underway.

The PTI has repeatedly alleged that its chief Khan has been kept in jail on politically motivated charges so that he will not be able to contest the general elections. The 71-year-old cricketer-turned-politician is facing nearly 150 cases across the country since he was ousted as prime minister in April last year.

“The inaction of the ECP and caretaker government on the ‘enforced disappearance’ of [PTI] Central Additional Secretary General Ali Nawaz Awan is the worst example of lawlessness,” the statement said.

The party accused the ECP and the caretaker government of failing to fulfil their constitutional duty and being the “key facilitators” in the state agenda of “deviating” from the Constitution.

It said that the ECP and interim set-up should realise their sensitive duties and instead of being a ‘part of conspiracies against democracy’, they should play their role for its survival and protection.

(Published 11 November 2023, 11:19 IST)

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