Islamabad: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has complained to the Chief Election Commissioner about the imposition of section 144 in erstwhile tribal districts hampering free and fair elections scheduled for July 20.
In a letter address to the CEC the party Secretary General Farhatullah Babar said “access to voters through public meetings by candidates and their parties’ leaders is of paramount importance to present to the people alternate political narratives that can change their lives”. It urged that the executive authorities be directed to “refrain from imposing section 144 or otherwise banning entry” to outsiders in the tribal areas, the letter further said.
“I wish to compliment the Election Commission of Pakistan for ordering last Friday the immediate release of two independent candidates from South Waziristan tribal district to freely contest July 20, 2019 elections declaring the arrests “tantamount to pre-poll rigging”. Bold and just pronouncements like this are needed if the electoral exercise is not to look like a farce,” he said.
Babar wrote: “May I draw your kind attention towards other acts of the executive that tantamount to pre-poll rigging. These acts have not even been noticed, much less agitated, because of the environment of black hole clamped on the area. One such act is the denial to the candidates and their party leaders to freely reach out to the voters by imposing section 144. Access to voters through public meetings by candidates and their parties’ leaders is of paramount importance to present to the people alternate political narratives that can change their lives. The window of opportunity afforded by the July 20 elections to change the status quo is being closed down by section 144 denying a reach out to voters.”
“Beginning with South Waziristan the leadership of the Pakistan People’s Party plans to visit the erstwhile tribal districts to campaign for its candidates. However, it feels handicapped because of section 144 and disallowing outsiders entry as happened last week when a fact finding mission of HRCP, of which the undersigned was also a member, was disallowed from entering North Waziristan,” he said.
“Kindly therefore direct the executive authorities to refrain from imposing section 144 or otherwise banning entry of political leaders in the area for public meetings”