ISLAMABAD: PTI has called upon the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to fulfil its constitutional duty of ensuring “a level playing field” for all parties contesting the general elections.

A statement by a PTI spokesperson said the chief election commissioner’s letters to federal and provincial caretaker governments for providing a level playing field to political parties were “inadequate”.

The letters “served no purpose” as PTI witnessed no let-up in the “ongoing oppression and suppression” against its leaders and supporters.

The party demanded the electoral wat­c­hdog take “effective, practical and tangible steps” and use its constitutional powers.

Two party workers injured in Upper Dir clash with police

PTI spokesperson claimed the country was facing the worst constitutional and legal crises, and concrete steps, instead of letters, were required.

The party is not allowed to hold political activities anywhere, and the coverage of most PTI leaders, including Imran Khan, was prohibited, the spokesperson said.

PTI workers are being compelled to part ways with the party after their enforced disappearances, and this practice “continues unabated”. “The state’s plans to keep PTI out of the electoral race were the talk of town.”

Most PTI leaders have been locked up without any crime and were not being released, the statement said, adding that ECP should do more than just issuing verbal orders and issuing letters.

Two PTI workers hurt in clash

Separately, two PTI supporters got injured in a clash with police during a workers’ convention in the Sahibabad area of Upper Dir on Saturday.

The party attempted to hold the event despite the imposition of Section 144 by the district administration.

A heavy police contingent was deployed to stop the event, which was to be addressed by PTI Vice Chairman Sher Afzal Marwat.

The situation got tense when police tried to stop the workers from reaching the venue.

The altercation began when police were pelted with stones by the PTI workers after the former tried to disperse them at Chukiatan Dir.

The cops fired in the air.

Two PTI workers and a cop suffered injuries. They were shifted to the DHQ hospital, Upper Dir.

Later, PTI workers broke the police cordon and reached the venue.

While addressing the crowd, Mr Marwat congratulated the party workers for standing with PTI Chairman Imran Khan.

Other political parties were allowed to hold workers’ conventions, but not the PTI, Mr Marwat regretted, adding: “This showed double standards.”

He added that February 8 — the day of general elections — will be “the day of reckoning and accountability”.

Mr Marwat reiterated that PTI workers “love Pakistan Army as it is our army” but complained that his party “was being pushed to the wall”. Former MNA Gul Zafar, Sibghatullah and other party leaders also spoke on the occasion.

Earlier, the police also tried to stop local PTI leaders and workers from welcoming Mr Marwat in the Saddo area of Lower Dir.

Former PTI lawmaker Malik Shafiullah told local journalists they would challenge the administration’s actions in the Peshawar High Court.

He said that a day earlier, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Parliamentarians (PTI-P) chief Pervez Khattak and former KP chief minister Mahmood Khan were “facilitated” in holding a workers’ gathering at Talash, but his party was barred from organising even an indoor gathering.

PTI spokesperson also condemned what they referred to as firing at the party’s workers’ convention.

The spokesperson claimed that two PTI workers were seriously injured and demanded the chief justice take strict action against those who opened fire.

A chaotic situation was being created through deliberate violent acts ahead of the elections to keep PTI out of the electoral process, the spokesperson claimed.

Over the past few weeks, PTI has accused the authorities of not allowing it to hold gatherings in the run-up to the Feb 8 polls.

The party has also filed a case in the Peshawar High Court, which, on Thursday, directed the PTI to apply to the relevant deputy commissioner for permission to hold any workers’ convention.

The court has warned that if PTI is not allowed to carry out political activities in the province, the caretaker chief minister and chief election commissioner will be summoned.

Haleem Asad in Lower Dir also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2023

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