ISLAMABAD: As the PTI finalised its strategy to seek transparent polls as well as a level playing field in the lead-up to general elections, the party has decided to initiate contacts with other political parties next week to take them on board.

According to a statement, the meeting of a sub-political committee of the PTI core committee was held on Saturday, which discussed various issues, including the political situation and party’s strategy. The statement, however, did not say who presided over the meeting or its location.

The sub-political committee endorsed a demand of the Pakistan Peoples Party seeking equal electioneering opportunities and PTI’s inclusion in the electoral process for fairness.

The political committee reviewed the statements of various political parties about the level playing field and PTI’s participation in the election process. The participants of the meeting were of the view that the statement of a PPP leader that the elections without the participation of the PTI would not be acceptable “reflected right political thinking”.

Spokesperson denounces ‘crackdown’ on party’s social media wing, backs PPP’s call for level playing field

The PTI committee termed the demand from the country’s different political parties to provide equal opportunities to all political parties for free, fair, impartial and transparent elections as “a positive trend”.

The statement said that the PTI was the country’s largest and most popular political force in all federating units; therefore, attempts to exclude any political party, including the PTI, from the election process “artificially and unnaturally through any unconstitutional and undemocratic plan under the ‘London Agreement’ would have very disastrous consequences for democracy”.

The meeting also sought immediate issuance of its electoral symbol ‘bat’ to the PTI and said it was essential for the credibility and transparency of the elections. The meeting underlined that the PTI would “welcome every positive role in ensuring the conduct of free, fair, transparent and immediate elections”.

During the meeting, the political committee also discussed in detail the schedule regarding contacts with other political parties to be started from next week.

‘Crackdown on social media workers’

Meanwhile, a PTI spokesperson condemned the crackdown on PTI social media workers. He expressed shock over the ongoing countrywide crackdown on the party’s social media workers by the state authorities after “imposing strict curbs on media and press and criminalising criticism and dissent”. The spokesperson demanded the Supreme Court (SC) protect the basic rights of the citizens and immediately counter the “state invasion against the citizens, especially the educated youth”.

The PTI spokesperson said that Pakistan “has been practically put under the grip of martial law plus as there was no regard for the constitution, law, morality, and social rules”. He pointed out that the state was “busy in violating all basic constitutional rights without fear of accountability, including the sanctity of the person, security of life and property, freedom of expression and communication, participation in peaceful political activities, fair trial, access to justice, and the right to vote”.

The PTI spokesperson alleged that after Pemra, the Federal Investigation Agency “has also been tasked with suppressing criticism and dissent by force” and added the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was silent in that regard.

On the other hand, PTI leader Asad Qaiser objected to the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) releasing pictures and video of his party delegation’s meeting with JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman. The former NA speaker stressed that the PTI delegation met the JUI-F chief to offer condolences over the Bajaur suicide bombing that targeted JUI-F’s workers’ convention, killing more than 40 people in July.

Published in Dawn, October 29th, 2023

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