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Wednesday, May 22, 2024  
13 Dhul-Qadah 1445  

Rawalpindi commissioner steps down claiming his ROs changed results for 13 candidates

Liaquat Ali Chatha says he deserves capital punishment
Rawalpindi Commissioner Liaquat Ali Chattha resigned | Breaking News - Aaj News

In an explosive development in Pakistani politics, Rawalpindi Commissioner Liaquat Ali Chatha has stepped down saying he made returning officers under him to change results for at least 13 MNA candidates in Rawalpindi Division.

Chatha said he was handing himself over to the police for election rigging and he deserved capital punishment. In a rather dramatic way, he said he should be hung at Rawalpindi’s Ketcheri Chowk.

The Rawalpindi commissioner also claimed that candidates who were losing the election were declared winners with a lead of 50,000 votes each.

Chatha said he saw the returning officers crying when he told them to rig the election. He said now he feared a repeat of the 1971 events when Pakistan into two after the 1970 election.

Chatha made the claims at a press conference in Rawalpindi.

He said after Friday prayers this morning he had once thought of committing suicide but then decided to expose everything before the people.

Chatha said that he was urging the entire bureaucracy to not serve the politicians who were preparing to become ministers.

He said it was plenty evident who was behind the rigging.

Candidates “who were leading the tally with 70,000 and 80,000 votes we made them lose. We stamped their votes with fake stamps,” he said.

Reporters asked when ballot papers were being stamped with fake stamps did he inform anyone that a wrong was being committed.

Chatha said he was accepting the entire blame for the ‘wrongdoing’ but he was also telling the reporters that the chief election commissioner and the chief justice of Pakistan were also fully involved “in this”.

He told reporters outside a building that the army organised elections in a fair way and added that the Form 45 was complete. “There is no need to again hold elections,” Chatha said and added that results would be clear after Forms 45 would be collected.

He was mum when asked which party won the elections if the results were changed.

The commissioner claimed that he was not under any pressure and his forefathers had been fighting against the British and Sikhs before partition.

“I cannot be part of [campaign] to destroy this country,” he said and did not name if anyone was involved in the whole campaign.

Who is to benefit from the claims

Shaukat Piracha of Aaj News says the press conference would serve as an important piece of evidence before the Supreme Court of Pakistan which is going to hear a petition against the February 8 Election. The petitioner has urged the court to declare the election void.

Aaj News Islamabad Bureau Chief Tariq Chaudhry says it must be noted who was going to benefit from the ‘expose’ of the Rawalpindi commissioner.

Piracha also said that the claim followed and aligned with the PTI narrative of massive rigging in the election, but there were questions: Why did the commissioner fail to raise his voice when alleged rigging was happening and resigned then and there?

He could have gone home or refused to follow the instruction, said Piranha.

Nazir Laghari described it as a “big incident”, saying that many people in the country’s bureaucracy and other services were facing such situations.

Laghari, who had joined Aaj News’ live transmission, called for investigations into the accusations and suggested re-polling in constituencies where such accusations were made.

He went on to add that there was an increase in polarisation in the country as when an analyst makes any statement against any political parties even senior officials also criticise them.

“You should have announced the result,” Laghari said and wondered about the state of people who announced the victory of PTI backed independent candidates in elections.

He was of the view that it was yet to check the veracity of the statement whether Chatha’s statement was under pressure or not.

The journalist said that why didn’t the returning officers working on his orders speak out against the alleged rigging? “If you were asked to rig the election then why did not you speak at that time,” he said in reaction to the revelations of Chatha.

He claimed that the statement was made under duress. “Ladlas are still ladlas. This country is not for the common people.”

Anchorperson Sidra Iqbal described it as a sensational and shocking development.

“It was not a statement that we should be shocked to hear,” she said and many people had expressed concerns over the change in results.

She mentioned that results announcements were stopped in a “suspicious way” amid the release of results.

“I think we have to stand by the bureaucracy and the civil servant,” she Sidra said and timely they were told that they are bound to follow orders whether they are constitutional or not.

“Rather than we shame them or start victim blaming because after eight days he had a guilty conscience,” she said and added that it was akin to harassment of women. “And you ask her why you were silent at that time and why you let that happen.”

She went on to add that bad precedents were set in society related to victim shaming. Sidra added that an investigation should be conducted, but his statement should be respected.

According to the anchorperson, the pressure on the commissioner was not just on February 8. “I think justice must be served. These are very serious allegations.”

She wondered whether the country was being destabilised and leading to an emergency situation. She added that it was not clear from where Chatha was under pressure.

“There could be many things. There could be a possibility that a series of revelations could be revealed. You cannot declare elections null and void on one commissioner’s statement as many have worked hard. It is important to decrease the pressure. Who can play the role? Judiciary or politicians? It is anybody’s guessing game right now.”

Rawalpindi Division includes Rawalpindi, Attock, Chakwal, Talagang, and Jhelum districts.

PTI’s Ayaz Amir is one of the candidates for the National Assembly who claimed they were leading the vote count until late night on February 8 but eventually, their opponents were declared the winners.

In its immediate reaction, the PTI has demanded claims made by Chatha.

Rawalpindi commissioner Liaquat Ali Chatha detained

The Rawalpindi CCPO detained Rawalpindi Commissioner Liaquat Ali Chatha on Saturday after his damning revelations, sources told Aaj News.

The Rawalpindi SSP operations said that the commissioner was not so far arrested. He claimed how police could arrest him before registration of the first information report.

ECP rejects accusations

The Election Commission of Pakistan has “strongly rejected” the Rawalpindi commissioner’s accusations against the electoral authority and the chief election commissioner.

“None of the ECP officials asked the Rawalpindi commissioner to change the election result,” the commission said in a statement.

The commissioner clarified that the commissioner of any division does not serve as a returning officer, district returning officer, or presiding officer. Moreover, he/she has no role in the conduct of elections.

But the authority said that it would conduct the investigation as soon as possible.

Punjab CM orders inquiry

Caretaker Punjab Chief Minister has taken notice of the claims and called for an investigation into the matter.

In a statement, the government called for impartial investigation into the accusations. A “high-level” committee would be formed to investigate the matter.

“An independent investigation should be conducted into the matter and real facts behind the matter should be brought to light.”

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