PTI free to take part in polls, clarifies minister after PM Kakar’s ‘minus Imran Khan’ remarks

Murtaza Solangi says though all parties are free to participate in elections, punishment for crimes remains legal

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Caretaker Minister for Information Murtaza Solangi. — Radio Pakistan/
Caretaker Minister for Information Murtaza Solangi. — Radio Pakistan/

  • PM Kakar misreported, remarks taken out of context, says Solangi.
  • All parties, including PTI free to take part in elections: info minister. 
  • "The law applies equally, be it PTI chief Imran Khan or anyone else."

Caretaker Minister for Information and Broadcasting Murtaza Solangi has clarified that Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq-Kakar's remarks about Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's Chairman Imran Khan were taken out of context and that all parties, including the PTI, are free to take part in the upcoming general elections.

Issuing a clarification following a backlash over the interim premier's remarks, Solangi reassured that all political parties have an equal right to take part in the polls and are allowed to duly participate in the democratic process. However, punishment for crimes remains legal

"The prime minister's remarks were reported incorrectly [...] unfortunately, a particular part of [prime minister's] interview was taken out of context and misrepresented," the information minister said on Tuesday.

"The premier [in his interview] said to make sure that the law reigns supreme and that it will apply equally to all those who transgress it whether it be the PTI chairman or someone else," he added.

Solangi also said that it was wrongfully perceived that certain individuals would not be allowed to take part in the elections as the caretaker prime minister's remarks about elections being held without the PTI supremo were meant for those who are involved in [May 9] vandalism and arson attacks.

Those who aren't involved in illegal activities are free to take part in the polls, the information minister clarified.

However, there's no hindrance for any PTI leader with regards to taking part in the polls, he said.

Solangi's clarification comes as last week, PM Kakar in his interview with The Associated Press said: "Free and fair elections can take place without [Imran] Khan or hundreds of members of his party."

The prime minister's remarks received a scathing backlash from human rights organisations and different segments of society.

Earlier in the day, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) termed Kakar's remarks as "inappropriate" contending that the premier should be aware that it is not for him or his government to decide unilaterally what constitutes a ‘fair’ election.

Addressing the plethora of cases faced by the PTI leadership and workers, the human rights watchdog accentuated that "courts were yet to establish guilt in all such cases".

"The systematic way in which the PTI leadership has been dismantled in the shape of mass arrests and rearrests, forced disassociation from the party, the disproportionate number of cases filed against political leaders and workers (including in military courts) and curbs on their freedom of expression and assembly have not produced a level playing field," the HRCP statement said.

"The caretaker government must desist from making irresponsible, partisan statements on matters not within its mandate. Instead, it must ensure that an environment conducive to credible and inclusive elections is created and maintained," it added.