FO responds to UN on violence against candidates ahead of polls

Security plans have also been finalised to hold the February 8 polls as per electoral laws, says FO spokesperson

Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch speaks during the FOs weekly briefing in Islamabad on January 11, 2024, in this still taken from a video. — X/@ForeignOfficePk
Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch speaks during the FO’s weekly briefing in Islamabad on January 11, 2024, in this still taken from a video. — X/@ForeignOfficePk
  • Pakistan committed to fostering inclusive democratic process: FO. 
  • Says security plans finalised for Feb 8 polls as per electoral laws.
  • UN had voiced concern over violent incidents ahead of elections. 

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch on Wednesday responded to the remarks made by the United Nations regarding the general elections, saying that Pakistan has finalised the security plans as per its electoral laws. 

A day earlier, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern over violent incidents ahead of the upcoming general elections set to take place on February 8 (tomorrow). 

“We deplore all acts of violence against political parties and candidates, and urge the authorities to uphold the fundamental freedoms necessary for an inclusive and meaningful democratic process,” spokesperson Liz Throssell said in a statement.

In her statement, the UN spokesperson underscored that “no less than 24” incidents have occurred where armed groups have targetted political parties, and called on the authorities to “ensure a fully free and fair vote and to recommit to the democratic process and an environment that promotes and protects the full range of economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights”.

In the UN’s response, Baloch in her statement, said: “Pakistan is fully committed to fostering an inclusive democratic process, upholding the rule of law and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms guaranteed in its laws and Constitution.”

She said that the security plans have also been finalised to hold the February 8 polls, adding that Pakistan’s judicial system provides for fair trial and due process.

“Domestic legal remedies are available in case of any complaints in the electoral process,” said the FO spokesperson. 

Spike in terror attacks 

The previous general election campaigns have witnessed spasms of violence, with scores of candidates and voters targeted by bombings and gun attacks and it seems that the 2024 polls are likely to be no different as the country has witnessed a significant surge in targeting of electioneering activities and candidates.

Scores of attacks have targetted candidates and electioneering activities of several political parties including the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), National Party (NP), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), Awami National Party (ANP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), last month, postponed the elections on the National Assembly’s NA-8 and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s PK-22 constituencies after independent candidate Rehan Zeb Khan was gunned down in KP’s Bajaur district.

Apart from this, violent clashes have also taken place involving political parties and police.

Last week, at least two people were injured after PTI workers clashed with the police in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Karak district.

Before that, the PPP and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) workers clashed on two separate occasions in Karachi — resulting in one fatality and multiple injuries.

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