Rawalpindi Commissioner admits to rigging elections

Written by Hafsa Ammar 6:39 pm Opinion, Published Content

Rawalpindi Commissioner Admits To Rigging Elections

Hafsa Ammar highlights events that took place outside Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium on 17th February. Rawalpindi Commissioner Liaqat Ali Chattha held a press conference where he admitted to playing a part in rigging the general elections and manipulating the final results. Chattha confessed to fabricating wins for 13 seats and toppling leads of 80,000 votes. He further told the reporters that Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja and Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa were also involved in the electoral misconduct. Many think this was a bold attempt at gaining political fame due to his upcoming retirement, but if so, why did he immediately surrender to the Rawalpindi Police afterward?
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Hafsa Ammar is a graduate of the National Defence University, Islamabad. Her areas of expertise are narrative building and propaganda warfare, centered around the Soviet Union and modern-day Russia.

Pakistan has been set abuzz with the most recent update in the state-wide fiasco of the general elections which took place on 8th February 2024. The delayed results were declared to be a sham and a by-product of corruption and blatant fraud. On Saturday, 17th February, these allegations were given weight as Rawalpindi Commissioner Liaqat Ali Chattha admitted to rigging the elections. He stated that he deliberately changed the results of his constituencies and fabricated wins for 13 seats

Rawalpindi Commissioner Press Conference

Yesterday, Liaqat Ali Chattha resigned from his post and held a press conference outside the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, where he took full responsibility for his actions and demanded that he be punished accordingly. He further told the reporters that Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja and Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa were also fully involved in the misconduct. The Chief Justice rejected the accusations leveled against him by Chattha, declaring them baseless, and asked for evidence of his wrongdoings. 

Commissioner Chattha stated that he was ashamed of his actions and wanted to come clean if only to meet a peaceful end with a clear conscience. After spending much of his life working for the city’s welfare, pulling 14 to 16-hour shifts, he did not want this one instance of dishonesty to stain his legacy of being a devout servant to the public. He listed a few of his lifetime achievements including the Rawalpindi Ring Road, Dambuchar Dam, Holy Family Hospital, and Gymkhana. 

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In the press conference, he explained how he helped flip leads of 70,000 and 80,000 votes and manipulated the results to declare losing candidates as rightful victors via fake stamps. “We made independent candidates lose”. The commissioner apologized to the RO (returning officer) working underneath him, claiming that he had pressured the reluctant officer to change the results. “No need to reconduct elections; the results will be clear if only you gather the remaining Form-45s,” he stated. 

The commissioner stated remorsefully that he had even attempted suicide after his morning prayers on Saturday because he was so stressed but then decided that his unjust actions should be made known to the public.

Admitting to playing a part in manipulating the results of the elections was a brave move by the commissioner as it painted a target on his back. However, many assume his actions were a political stunt to gain fame. How one could arrive at that conclusion is a wonder as after his press conference was finished, Liaqat Ali Chattha surrendered himself to the Rawalpindi Police, headed by CPO (city police officer) Syed Khalid Hamdani.

Response by the Election Commission Pakistan

The Election Commission Pakistan (ECP) also came forth with its official press release on the same day, stating that it strongly rejected the false allegations and that nobody had sent any orders/instructions to the Rawalpindi Commissioner to manipulate any results. The press release further stated that the commissioner plays no direct part in elections—the DRO (district returning officer), RO, and presiding officer are responsible for that. 

In an interview with Geo News, Information Minister Amir Mir repeated similar sentiments as Chief Justice Qazi and the ECP, fully denying all charges of electoral rigging. He even went as far as calling the Rawalpindi Commissioner a “psychopath.” He claimed that this press conference was a publicity stunt by Chattha to gain social and political standing before his looming retirement on 13th March. “Why didn’t he speak up on the day of the elections? Why did he speak up after ten days had passed?” he added. 

Formal Inquiry

The ECP summoned a meeting after the press conference to discuss the accusations. Chief ECP Sikandar Sultan Raja and senior member Babar Hassan Bharwana were part of the ensuing discussion. The meeting concluded with the forming of a committee to lead a formal inquiry against Rawalpindi Commissioner Liaqat Ali Chattha and his role in rigging elections. Senior members of the election commission will preside over the said committee. Their objective will be to check the truth by questioning the DROs and ROs stationed in Rawalpindi on 8th February. 

The public is left divided. If this truly was a publicity stunt, why would he surrender himself to the Rawalpindi Police? Was it done to clear his conscience or was it just another underhanded political maneuver?

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