ECP refutes Rawalpindi commissioner's allegations, initiates inquiry

Watchdog says commissioners not DRO, RO, or presiding officers; do not have direct role in conducting elections

Our Correspondent February 17, 2024


The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) released a statement on Saturday denying the allegations made by Rawalpindi Commissioner Liaquat Ali Chatta, against the chief election commissioner and the ECP.

“No official from the ECP issued any instructions to the commissioner Rawalpindi to manipulate election results,” it said in a statement soon after the commissioner’s press conference.

“It is important to note that the commissioner of any division is not the DRO, RO, or presiding officer and does not have a direct role in conducting the election," it stated.

Nonetheless, the electoral watchdog will promptly initiate an inquiry into the matter.

The ECP's statement came shortly after the Rawalpindi Commissioner, confessed to his "involvement in rigging election results in the city", and resigned from his post demanding to be "hanged for doing injustice" to the Rawalpindi Division.

Chattha, in a press conference at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, claimed that 13 candidates from Pindi were forcefully declared winners, adding that "we gave the losing candidates leads of 50,000 votes".

“I have done injustice to the Rawalpindi Division," he said. "I tried to commit suicide today after Fajr prayer. But then I thought, why should I die a forbidden death? Why not put everything in front of the people?” he said.

"I accept the responsibility of election rigging in Rawalpindi Division and surrender myself to the police," he said.

The commissioner said he undertook many development projects in the city but regretted tarnishing his legacy by "stabbing the country in the back".

"This does not allow me to sleep at night. No, I want to die a peaceful death and I should be punished for what I did. The chief election commissioner and others should be punished along with me,” he said

Chattha said, “I apologise to the returning officer (RO) under me. When I asked him to commit the crime, he cried, and said he did not want to do it.”

“The chief election commissioner and chief justice are involved in poll fraud. We made the independent candidates lose by giving losing candidates a lead of 70,000 by putting fake stamps,” the commissioner claimed.

He said, “I accept all the responsibility. I should be hanged. I cannot participate in the crime that could destroy Pakistan.”

However, the commissioner clarified that the army conducted elections in the “right manner”.

Read Protests against ‘rigging’ continue

He said that there was no need to conduct re-elections. “Only collect all Form 45 and you will have the results clear,” Chattha added.

The commissioner concluded by speaking highly of his efforts made for the progress of Rawalpindi. “I worked 16 hours a day for Rawalpindi; built Ring Road, Dadhucha Dam, Holy Family Hospital and Rawalpindi Gymkhana.” He said could not stand by the “fraud” that he committed.

PTI's unexpected falter in Rawalpindi division

The February 8 general elections brought a surprising turn of events, with the PTI failing to retain any seats in this historically significant region. Allegations of massive rigging in the final results were raised by PTI-backed independent candidates, particularly concerning the issuance of Form-47 by the ECP.

Many candidates argued that the results indicating their victories have been collected through Form-45, distributed by presiding officers to their polling agents after the counting at polling stations.

Interestingly, a majority of the PTI candidates in these districts enthusiastically celebrated the unofficial results on the night of February 8.

However, the scenario took a turn when Returning Officers (ROs) issued Form-47, showing the defeat of PTI-backed independent candidates and the declaration of PML-N candidates as the victorious contenders.

Complaints have arisen from PTI-backed candidates, alleging that they were denied entry into ROs' offices during the counting process.

Even though the official results show their defeat, PTI-backed candidates garnered substantial votes, raising eyebrows among powerful circles and opposing parties alike.

It is learned that these candidates are considering challenging the ROs' results soon, with protests being staged outside ROs' offices.


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