In a letter to interim Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar, President Arif Alvi on Wednesday raised the PTI’s concerns regarding the “erosion of fundamental rights and a level playing field for all political parties” in the run-up to the upcoming general elections.

Earlier this month, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and President Alvi had agreed on February 8, 2024 as the date for general elections — an announcement that has stirred activity in the camps of major political parties.

The PTI has alleged that it is being stopped from carrying out political activities and several of its leaders are incarcerated following violence in the country on May 9.

The PTI has called for free, fair, tran­s­­­parent conduct for the upcoming polls and demanded that a level playing field should be provided to all political parties during the process leading up to elections.

For his part, PM Kakar has stated that politicians having loyalties with PTI Chairman Imran Khan — who is in jail in connection with the cipher case and has been convicted in the Toshakhana case — will be allowed to contest the upcoming polls.

A statement issued by the President’s Office today, said that Alvi “conveyed … the concerns of the PTI on the erosion of fundamental rights and level playing field for all political parties”.

The president said that it was of the “utmost importance” that the caretaker government made efforts as a “neutral entity to provide a level playing field for all political parties”. He also forwarded a letter sent to him by PTI General Secretary Omar Ayub Khan to the premier.

Alvi termed as “reassuring” the premier’s recent remarks assuring that all registered political parties should have equal rights and opportunities to contest the forthcoming elections.

He further highlighted that democracy was the “only viable way forward for the state and people of Pakistan”, adding that its essence lay in giving people the right to partake in political activities and to be able to voice their opinions through free media.

He said that “there was a resonance in Pakistan that for free, fair and credible elections, all political parties and leaders had right to contest and it was up to people to decide.”

In his letter, President Alvi said that he was constitutionally “duty-bound, along with the prime minister and all institutions, to protect the rights of the citizens”.

He said that in his missive, the PTI secretary general had conveyed the party’s concerns and allegations regarding the “erosion of fundamental rights, with particular reference to enforced disappearances, forced conversions of political loyalties, absence of level playing field for major political parties, crackdown on media and mistreatment of female political activists through prolonged illegal detentions”.

The president maintained that the above instances became a “matter of concern when such actions resulted in the conversion of political associations and/or loyalties”, adding that the issue became sensitive when female political workers were also subjected to prolonged detentions or frequent rearrests after court relief.

The president highlighted Article 4 (right of individuals to be dealt with in accordance with law), 17 (freedom of association) and 19 (freedom of speech) of the Constitution as he urged PM Kakar, as the head of the government, to “kindly look into these issues”.

The PTI is not the only party complaining about a level playing field leading up to the polls. The rivalry between the PML-N and the PPP has gained momentum as the latter has alleged that the PML-N has a hidden alliance with the current caretaker government.

The PPP also recently announced that it was open to forming an electoral alliance with the PTI to counter former ally PML-N.

The PML-N and the PPP were coalition partners in the previous government and had joined hands to remove PTI Chairman Imran Khan from power.

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