KARACHI: Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar has said that relief from the courts is the only option available to PTI Chairman Imran Khan, if he seeks to contest the general elections.

In an interview with BBC Urdu, Mr Kakar said if “judicial remedy” did not work out for Mr Khan and if he was not able to get relief from the courts, then he would have to face the consequences.

“I mean that whatever opportunities he [Imran] has in the judicial system, if even after using those opportunities he is not allowed to contest elections according to the law, then it would be outside our mandate to provide him relief,” Mr Kakar said in the interview, aired on Friday.

He went on to say that “no harshness” would be adopted towards the PTI but at the same time maintained that “the people who were involved in the activities against the state would be dealt with according to the law”.

Says judiciary to decide about Nawaz’s arrest; claims only 50 missing persons in Balochistan, as per UN estimates

“And these are specific people, who amount to 1,500 or 2,000 in the population of 250 million people … linking them with the PTI is not a fair analysis,” he added.

When the host compared the crackdown against PTI to the treatment meted out to PPP and PML-N by dictators Ziaul Haq and Pervez Musharraf, respectively, Mr Kakar called the comparison “absurd and wrong”.

“They were the governments of the military junta. If you compare that with a civilian caretaker government, then it would be wrong.”

‘Arresting’ Nawaz

On the question of arresting PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif upon his return on Oct 21, the caretaker premier said he wanted the law “to take its course”.

“We have asked the law ministry as to what should be the caretaker government’s position in terms of administrative measure [on Nawaz’s return] … as soon as I reach the country, we will call a meeting in that regard,” he said.

PM Kakar said the decision regarding the arrest of the former prime minister would be taken by courts as the judiciary had allowed the PML-N supremo to leave the country. “A convicted person was allowed by the courts to leave, not by the executive. This is a question for the courts, not for the executive.”

Missing persons

On the issue of missing persons in Balochistan, from where the PM hails, he claimed according to a UN sub-committee estimates, around 50 people have been forcefully disappeared in Balochistan. “In Indian Kashmir, it is 8,000.”

“Sometimes, we receive complaints in which they give us 5,000 names claiming they are missing. [They are] not ready to accept any UN best practices on collection of data of missing persons,” he said, adding the issue is used as a “propaganda tool” against the state.

Published in Dawn, October 1st, 2023

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