Pakistan’s poll official steps down, admits election irregularities

Business Today Desk

Liaquat Ali Chattha, a senior Pakistani bureaucrat, on Saturday resigned from his position, citing his responsibility for alleged election rigging. Chattha accused the chief election commissioner and the chief justice of being involved in malpractices during the recent election. 

His resignation coincided with protests launched by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, led by jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan, who claimed that the election results were manipulated, and their mandate was stolen in the February 8 elections.

Addressing reporters at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, Liaquat Ali Chattha claimed that candidates who were initially “losing” the elections were manipulated to emerge as winners. 

“I am taking the responsibility for all this wrongdoing and telling you that the chief election commissioner and the chief justice are also completely involved in this,” he was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.

Liaquat Ali Chattha tendered his resignation, accepting responsibility for the alleged manipulation of poll results. He expressed deep concern, stating that the act of “stabbing the country in its back” keeps him awake at night.

“I should be punished for the injustice I have done and others who were involved in this injustice should also be punished,” he said.

Chattha revealed that he faced immense pressure, to the point where he considered suicide. However, he decided to speak out and bring the issues to the public’s attention rather than succumb to the pressure he experienced. 

“It is my request to the entire bureaucracy to not do anything wrong for all these politicians,” he said.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has categorically refuted the allegations leveled by Liaquat Ali Chattha against the chief election commissioner. In a swift response, the ECP dismissed the claims, emphasizing the commission’s commitment to conducting free and fair elections.

“The Election Commission of Pakistan strongly rejects the allegations levelled by the Commissioner Rawalpindi on the chief election commissioner or the election commission and no official of the election commission never issued any instructions regarding changing the election results to the Commissioner Rawalpindi,” he said in a statement.

“Neither is the commissioner of any division ever appointed as a DRO, RO or presiding officer, nor do they ever play a direct role in the conduct of elections.”

Punjab caretaker Information Minister Amir Mir has dismissed the claims made by Liaquat Ali Chattha regarding the manipulation of election results, stating that no concrete evidence has been presented to support these allegations. Mir emphasized the need for substantiated proof before accepting such serious accusations. 

Mir expressed skepticism about the timing of Liaquat Ali Chattha’s allegations, suggesting that the commissioner might be attempting to launch a political career after his retirement on March 13. The claims of election rigging have been raised not only by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf but also by other political entities, including the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA).

Despite the allegations of election rigging, Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) are moving towards forming a coalition government. The post-poll alliance between PML-N and PPP, along with the support of Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P), is positioning them to secure a majority in the National Assembly. 

To form a government in the 266-member National Assembly, a party must win 133 of the 265 contested seats.

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