Caretakers reject HRCP concerns over polls

2018-07-18T01:43:08+05:00 Atif Khan

Islamabad - The caretaker federal government on Tuesday rejecting the concerns shown by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan of manipulation in upcoming elections said that security forces had been given powers to ensure transparency during the elections.

Caretaker Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training Prof Muhammad Yusuf Shaikh while talking to The Nation said that the military functionaries have been assigned magisterial powers just to ensure that some influential did not influence the polling staff.

“The role of caretaker government is to ensure transparent elections on the given schedule and I can confirm to you that elections will be held on June 25,” said Shaikh, who also served as General Staff Officer and Instructor at Pakistan Military Academy Kakul in the 70s.

About the deployment of teachers at polling stations, he said that everything was according to the schedule and the selected staffers were undergoing training. He, however, clarified that the subject was related to the provinces or the Election of Commission of Pakistan.

The HRCP on Monday expressed serious reservations about the extraordinary powers accorded to the security forces, ostensibly to ensure the integrity of the polls.

It questioned the deployment of around 350,000 security personnel outside and inside polling stations, and granting of magisterial powers to military functionaries and said it has blurred the line between civilian and non-civilian responsibility for the electoral process.

The watchdog had said that members of the PML-N were being pressured to switch loyalties, and candidates were being asked to return their tickets, and that electoral opposition to two mainstream parties – the PML-N in Punjab and the PPP in Sindh – was being ‘manufactured’ in strategic areas.

It had also said that all parties had not been given equal freedom to run their election campaigns. “Candidates from parties such as the PML-N, the PPP and Awami Workers Party have reported being harassed by law enforcement and security personnel during their campaigns, their movement monitored or restricted without good reason, and their election banners removed en masse, reportedly by security personnel,” the HRCP said.

It had also questioned the reappearance of banned outfits under changed names, and “the recent curbs on the print and the broadcast media specifically, the numerous instances in which journalists perceived as favouring the PML-N or the PPP or deemed critical of the security establishment had been subject to censorship, intimidation, harassment and abduction”.

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