(CTN News) – The Peshawar High Court’s recent decision has allowed the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) to conduct its campaign for the upcoming elections in the province, which includes holding public gatherings.
However, the court has instructed the PTI to adhere strictly to the conditions established by the district administration in order to prevent any disruption of law and order.
The bench, consisting of Justice Ijaz Anwar and Justice Shakeel Ahmad, issued this order in response to a joint petition filed by PTI provincial president Ali Amin Gandapur, provincial legal coordinator Mashal Azam, and provincial vice-president of the Insaf Lawyers Forum (ILF) Malik Arshad Ahmad.
The petitioners sought several reliefs, primarily asking the court to direct the respondents, including the provincial chief secretary, to grant permission for the PTI to carry out campaign activities for their candidates in the upcoming general elections.
The court further emphasized that if the petitioners face any obstacles in conducting peaceful political activities, they can approach the court again for redress.
Provincial advocate general Aamir Javed argued that holding peaceful meetings and engaging in political activities is a constitutional right for individuals and political parties. However, he pointed out that the district administration has established specific conditions for these activities.
He rejected the petitioners’ claim that the party had been prevented from carrying out political activities, suggesting that they had not followed the proper procedures in this regard.
Mr. Javed referred to a specific instance where the PTI sought permission for a public meeting in Karak on September 28. He noted that the Awami National Party had applied for permission to hold a meeting there on September 15, while the PTI submitted its application to the administration on September 20.
The district police officer stated that it would be challenging for the police to provide security for two meetings simultaneously, hence the PTI’s request was denied.
A panel of lawyers representing the petitioners argued that around 75 applications for holding public meetings were submitted by the PTI across the province, but none of them were accepted by the respective district administrations.
They contended that since the PTI is not a banned entity, preventing its members from exercising their fundamental rights and campaigning for their candidates violates their constitutional rights and the law. They further asserted that free and fair elections would be compromised in such circumstances.
Lawyer Shah Faisal noted that after a change in government in 2022, there was a significant crackdown on PTI members, and attempts were made on the life of the party chairman, Imran Khan. He pointed out that while other major political parties had begun their political campaigns for the upcoming general elections, the PTI was not permitted to do so, even within private residences.
In response, the advocate general mentioned that Atif Khan, a former provincial minister and PTI leader, was an absconder, and thus, no political meeting could be allowed at his house. Justice Ijaz Anwar made a lighthearted observation that such situations were not uncommon in the country, where even absconders have been received with full government protocol.
The counsel for the petitioners further raised the issue of the administration of Khyber tribal district rejecting the PTI’s application for a public meeting.
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