As Pakistan gears up to vote in the general elections today, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has released key observations from the fifth and final issue of Elections Watch for January–February 2024.
In its report, the HRCP stated that, in a heavy blow to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the Supreme Court upheld the Election Commission of Pakistan's (ECP) verdict to deprive the party of its election symbol, thereby effectively disenfranchising its voters.
JUST RELEASED— Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (@HRCP87) February 7, 2024
As Pakistan gears up to vote in the polls tomorrow, here are some key observations from the fifth and final issue of Elections Watch for Jan/Feb 2024:
🗳️ In a heavy blow to the PTI, the Supreme Court upheld the ECP's decision to deprive the party of its election… https://t.co/rsQwnZlHvu
“Yet another Senate resolution—the fourth such since the elections were announced—was tabled, asking for the elections to be postponed,” the report read.
It added that three court decisions in rapid succession collectively sentenced former prime minister Imran Khan to 31 years in jail. Serious questions have been raised about all three rulings, particularly their timing, the visible erosion of respect for due process, and the independence of the judiciary.
Many PTI candidates were subjected to police excesses and raids and violations of their rights to freedom of movement and peaceful assembly, it added.
The report mentioned that several countrywide internet outages disrupted the party's virtual events, although these were attributed to technical faults by the caretaker government.
The report stated that observers questioned the feasibility of using the new election management system, warning that any failure of the system could make the election results controversial.
The Ahmadiyya community remained effectively disenfranchised as a result of faith-based discrimination in the electoral lists, it added.
As per the report, the main political parties failed to ensure that at least 5 percent of their party tickets for general seats were awarded to women in accordance with the Elections Act 2017.
The report stated that deteriorating security affected Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan in particular, with election candidates, law enforcement personnel, and civilians being targeted. At least 26 people had been killed in back-to-back bomb blasts in Pishin and Qila Saifullah just a day before the elections.