UN rights body warns of ‘pattern of harassment’ against Imran Khan’s party ahead of election
ISLAMABAD (AP) — The United Nation’s top human rights body warned Tuesday of a “pattern of harassment” against members of former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party ahead of this week’s parliamentary election.
During a news briefing in Geneva, Liz Throssell, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, urged Pakistani authorities to ensure a fully free and fair voting process.
This came amid complaints by Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party of harassment and the inability to hold rallies similar to the former ruling party and its candidate Nawaz Sharif. Authorities have denied such claims.
Khan has been sentenced to 34 years in jail after being convicted in four cases and has been disqualified from running. His party and supporters claimed the sentencing was a punishment for his rhetoric against Pakistan’s powerful military.
Throssell said the U.N.'s rights body was disturbed “by the pattern of harassment, arrests and prolonged detentions of leaders” of Khan’s party and its supporters.
She said all eligible parties in Pakistan must be able to compete fairly.
“Ahead of Thursday’s parliamentary election in Pakistan, 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,” she said.
She said the upcoming elections are also a “reminder of the barriers faced by women and minority communities in Pakistan, particularly the Ahmadis.”
Pakistan declared the Ahmadis non-Muslims in 1974, they are recorded on separate voter rolls from other citizens. Throssell said that these separate voter lists exposes them to violence.
In recent months radical Islamic extremists have