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HRCP doubts polls can ensure democracy

Human Right Commission of Pakistan has just sent a press release where they share doubt that these election polls can ensure democracy read the entire press release here

The process leading to the January elections holds no promise of any transition to democracy. On the contrary, the elections are being used to sideline critical issues affecting the fundamental rights of people, including the ruination of the judicial system of the country, says a press release issued here on Monday by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

It says the lifting of emergency is a superficial exercise as the judiciary remains grievously damaged. The worst blow, it says, the judiciary has received is a series of attacks on its prestige.

It says permission for transmission to private television channels is granted under intolerable censorship rules. The Pemra Ordinance, rules, regulations and the code of conduct devised for the media are clear signals that expression will remain stifled and information to the people will be controlled, it adds saying Geo has so far not allowed news transmission.

The press release says the media has been traumatised as well as effectively gagged.

The “removed chief justice, along with his family and other judges, remains confined and bar associations leaders are under detention and were subjected to humiliation when released for a few hours, it deplores.

It further says, the Constitution has been amended arbitrarily and violence is being routinely used against those protesting usurpation of peoples rights.

Students have been beaten and arrested and the draconian amendments to the army act and the legal practitioners and bar councils act remain unchanged, the release points out.

It apprehends that elections held under such oppressive conditions can never be accredited as free, fair or transparent. It is apparent that elections have been designed to perpetuate the military regime rather than to seek a peaceful transition to democracy, it adds.

The HRCP observes that pre-poll manipulations are evident while the prospects of change, the real objective of elections, largely disappeared with the manipulated election of the president.

It says the actions of the government machinery, including those of Election Commission, support the allegations of political parties that the January 2008 elections are being massively manoeuvred.

It points out that caretaker ministers are openly campaigning for their relatives and friends contesting elections, while government funds and machinery are being used in favour of political parties close to the Musharraf regime.

It alleges large-scale transfers of judicial and administrative officers have taken place under the nose of the EC, without any attempt to stop it. The Election Commissions failure to restrain nazims from interfering in elections proves collusion between them, it adds.

The press release says the election schedule itself gave political parties little time to prepare the electorate and to organise their own cadres.

It points out the final voters list has yet to be put on website and that nomination papers of top leadership of an opposition party have been rejected.

It alleges that allegations of abduction of opposition candidates by government agents have not been investigated, saying at least two candidates filed election papers while in preventive detention.

It says it is imperative that sovereignty of the people, rather than of the military, be recognised by law and in practice.

It demanded the Constitution be purged of amendments made by military dictators, November 2 judiciary be restored and the independence of the institution ensured.

It also demanded end to all curbs on the media, release of political detainees, and withdrawal of amendments to the 1952 army act made by Gen Musharraf.

It seeks an independent and credible Election Commission and a measure of autonomy for provinces.

The HRCP suggests the spread of violence by non-state actors across the country must and can only be effectively countered if carried out within the ambit of the law and in an environment where free expression is tolerated and the legal system is enforced.

It says political stability cannot be attained if widespread human rights violations are extended impunity, demanding a mechanism to investigate all incidents of disappearance, torture, and arbitrary detentions.

The HRCP says any incidence of malpractice on the polling day must be documented.

In particular, it adds, note will be taken of the complaints made to Election Commission, the polling results of prisoners, secrecy of vote cast by government employees, transparency of postal ballots and of returns received from Pakistani missions abroad.

The HRCP urges other election observers, domestic as well as international, to take note of the events leading to the elections and not confine their findings to the polling day alone. International observers must also monitor sensitive constituencies in the interior of the country, it demands.

One Comment

  • wtf |

    Is this the same lame duck organization led by the loan defaulter Asma Jehangir? you know the ugly chick who usually uses political rallies to throw her weight around. Jeeeez they really need to get a dose of STFU.