ISLAMABAD: President Arif Alvi wrote a letter to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday, expressing concern over recent political developments in the country while mentioning the “glaring violation” of the fundamental rights of opposition activists and media personnel to stifle dissenting voices in Pakistan.
Alvi’s letter comes at a time when the government has registered a slew of cases against former Prime Minister Imran Khan and leaders of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. Khan has also criticized the police and other law-enforcing agencies for abducting and torturing his party supporters and charging them with terrorism and sedition.
The president, a close Khan ally, quoted various constitutional provisions related to freedom of speech, dignity of citizens, and the right to fair trial in his letter, adding that their spirit and mandate had been “clearly transgressed.”
“Events have taken place in the recent past highlighted by the print, electronic and social media about glaring violations of Fundamental and Human Rights that need to be brought to your notice to ensure remedial measures and preventive action,” he said.
“Multiple fake and frivolous cases have been registered against politicians, workers, journalists and media persons,” he added. “Houses of political workers have been raided and citizens abducted without warrants and lawful justification.”
The president said such incidents had tarnished the image of the country, adding they could have serious repercussions for the future of democracy and the state of human rights in Pakistan.
He also mentioned the Election Commission of Pakistan’s decision to postpone the Punjab polls from April 30 to October 8 in a recent proclamation while describing it as a “flagrant violation of the Constitution ... by the executive authorities and government departments.”
Alvi said Article 220 of the Constitution required state institutions to help the election commission hold free and fair polls, though the relevant departments had seemingly failed to extend such cooperation.
He also blamed the prime minister for not holding any meaningful consultation with him over policy issues.
“The Prime Minister, being head of Government, is responsible for the safeguard of Human Rights as well as Fundamental Rights of every citizen of Pakistan as enshrined in the Constitution,” he said.
The president added: “It is further emphasized that all concerned executive authorities of Federal and Provincial Governments should be directed to refrain from abuse of Human Rights and also to assist the [Election Commission of Pakistan] to hold general elections in provinces of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, within the timeframe in compliance of Supreme Court’s Order dated 1st March, 2023, to avoid further complications including Contempt of Court.”