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Commissioner Rawalpindi Chatha quits out of 'guilty conscience' for abetting election rigging

Commissioner Rawalpindi Chatha quits out of ‘guilty conscience’ for abetting election rigging

Tooba Shakir 2 months ago 0

Conflicting reports emerge about Liaqat Ali Chatha’s arrest as ECP rejects allegations and Punjab CM orders probe

  • Police say did not arrest Liaqat Ali Chatha.
  • Election commission rejects allegations.
  • Interim Punjab CM Naqvi orders investigation.

RAWALPINDI: In a dramatic development, Commissioner Rawalpindi Division Liaqat Ali Chatha Saturday tendered his resignation, which he said was out of “guilty conscience” for abetting large-scale electoral rigging in the garrison city further raising the political mercury in the country.

Addressing a press conference at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, Chatha announced to step down from his position, admitting he did injustice to the people of his city. 

The Rawalpindi Division comprises 13 National Assembly seats, on which 11 Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) candidates were successful, while the rest were secured by an independent candidate and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). The division also has 27 provincial seats — on which PML-N was successful on 15 and 11 independents.

Following his startling revelations, police first said that he was arrested, but later Rawalpindi police spokesperson rejected claims that the top official had been taken into custody.

The commissioner, in the rare press conference, took responsibility for the “rigging” that he claimed took place in Rawalpindi Division. “We converted the losers into winners with 50,000 votes margin,” he stated, surrendering himself before the authorities.

“I apologise to the returning officers of my division,” he said, adding that his subordinates were crying about what they were directed to do.

Chatha claimed that even today, the election staff are affixing fake stamps on the ballot papers. “We wronged the country […] I should be executed at Rawalpindi’s Kachehri Chowk” he lamented.

Stressing that he was under pressure from social media and overseas Pakistanis, the official revealed that he even attempted suicide this morning.

“It is not unknown who is committing such wrongdoing and who’s behind it. “13 National Assembly candidates, who were losing, were made to win by a margin of up to 70,000 votes,” he added.

Election commission rejects claims

Meanwhile, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has rejected the claims made by the Rawalpindi commissioner, stating that no official of the commission gave any direction to him regarding the manipulation of results.

According to a statement issued by the electoral authority, the commissioner of any division is neither a district returning officer, RO, or presiding officer, nor do they have any direct role in the conduct of an election.

“However, the election commission will conduct an inquiry into the matter as soon as possible,” the notification read.

Following the bombshell claims, Punjab caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi also took strict notice of the matter and ordered an impartial investigation into the allegations.

The CM directed to form a high-level committee to inquire into the allegations. He said that an independent inquiry would take place, adding that the facts would be brought to light.

‘Psychopath’

Meanwhile, the Punjab government’s spokesperson also rejected the allegation of rigging by the senior official.

Speaking to Geo News, caretaker Information Minister Amir Mir said that this is neither a revelation nor a confession of the crime, this is a claim and an allegation to harm the credibility of the elections.

He said that he strongly rejects the allegations made by Chatha.

Mir said that the person who talks about suicide can only be a psychopath, adding that Chatha was heading towards retirement on March 13.

“A few weeks before his retirement, he is making a political stunt. I think he wants to pursue a political career,” he added.

When asked about the claims Chatha made about people working under him crying on the day of the elections, Mir said that the media did not see anyone crying.

“The things he is saying, can a normal person make these claims? Especially a person who is appointed to a commissioner’s post. Why did he not come out on the day of the election when all of this was happening? Why did he remember this 10 days after the elections?” he questioned.

Mir said that the investigation into the matter will definitely take place.

“First of all, the investigation will take place into his mental health. The probe should also take place on how a person like this was appointed to such a key post,” he added.

‘PTI mandate stolen’

Responding to the claims, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Ali Muhammad Khan said that the Rawalpindi commissioner took a major step today and his allegations prove that their mandate has been stolen.

“They have stolen our seats and now our demand is simple. We want the chief justice to take suo motu notice of this matter, the Election Commission should correct its mistake and our mandate should be given back to us,” he said while speaking to Geo News.

Khan said that we had won about 160-170 seats, adding that his party does not trust CM Naqvi’s probe as everything happened under his nose.

Meanwhile, PML-N senior leader Rana Sanaullah said that Chatha is one of his close friends and he was being treated for having mental problems. “However, if something like this had happened, he would have told me,” he added.

Sanaullah, however, said that allegations of rigging should be investigated in every case.

PPP demands investigation

Moreover, PPP leader Sherry Rehman said that an investigation into serious allegations should take place.

“The question arises that Rawalpindi commissioner’s conscience woke up after 10 days,” she said.

“The commissioner said that he was under social media and overseas Pakistanis’ pressure,” said the senator, adding that his allegations have raised questions on the elections of the entire district.

She said that the commissioner should also give proof of his allegations as he did not present any evidence.

“He also blamed the chief justice which is beyond comprehension. The election commission should also explain what is going on,” said the PPP leader.

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