ISLAMABAD: While commissioner Rawalpindi’s confessional statement before the media regarding his role in the rigging in the general elections has triggered a debate about the transparency of elections across Pakistan, the main opposition party, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), and its allies have demanded that chief election commissioner (CEC) and chief justice should tender their resignations.

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has demanded an inquiry into the allegations. However, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has raised questions about the mental status of commissioner Rawalpindi.

PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah, while talking to Dunya News, said that commissioner Rawalpindi seemed to be a psycho, and that is why he claimed that he tried to commit suicide.

PTI spokesperson demanded that CEC Sikandar Sultan Raja and Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa should tender their resignations in the aftermath of the revelations by Rawalpindi Commissioner Liaquat Ali Chattha.

PPP calls for inquiry; PML-N rejects charges, questions Chattha’s mental state

He stated that Mr Chattha’s admission endorsed PTI’s stance on how the public mandate was stolen in the dark of the night, besides exposing the real characters involved in election rigging.

PTI spokesperson said that commissioner Rawalpindi’s confessed that the victory of independent candidates leading with over 70,000 votes was converted into a defeat by putting fake stamps.

He emphasised Mr Chattha’s testimony supported PTI’s stance that people had voted for PTI-affiliated independent candidates in large numbers. However, the overwhelming PTI majority was allegedly turned into a minority overnight through poll “fraud”.

He demanded that the electoral watchdog should promptly return PTI’s 86 stolen seats.

He also demanded that all the elements involved in stealing public mandate should be punished as per constitution and the law.

PTI leaders meet Imran

Meanwhile, PTI held its parliamentary committee meeting, and later, during a media talk, Ali Muhammad Khan said that PTI was deprived of its symbol, and most of the leaders were in jail at the time of elections, but people cast votes in favour of PTI.

“Today we hear voice from same place [Rawalpindi] where we were deprived of our mandate. Commissioner Rawalpindi has given proof in our favour. We have been deprived of 80 seats,” he said.

He mentioned that on Friday, he, along with Sardar Latif Khosa, had a meeting with Imran Khan.

“Imran Khan told us that he will forgive all the personalities just like Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) did after Fatah Makkah. He also gave the example of Nelson Mandela and said that he will not take revenge from anyone. He said if that kind of elections had to be held, why were so many funds were spent on bogus elections,” Ali Muhammad Khan said.

Mr Khosa said that the revelations made by Mr Chattha were an eye-opener.

“Now we can analyse that why phone and internet service was suspended,” he said.

Later PTI’s candidates from Rawal­pindi including Ayaz Ameer and Seemabia Tahir held press conference in which they claimed that they had evidence that the rigging was made.

Former Chief Minister Punjab Pervaiz Elahi’s wife Qaisra Elahi, during a media talk, said that she hoped that the commissioner Rawalpindi’s resignation will become the first drop of rain and RO of Gujrat Haider Abbas will also follow him.

PPP secretary information Faisal Karim Kundi, in a video statement, said that Pakistan was passing from a very sensitive era as a new parliament was going to form soon.

“We also have reservations over the election and have been collecting evidences regarding it. We demand that inquiry should be conducted to ascertain the authenticity of the allegations,” he said.

PML-N seek in-depth inquiry

Meanwhile, PML-N secretary information Marriyum Aurangzeb has called for an in-depth inquiry into all communication channels used by Mr Chattha and demanded placing his name on the exit control list (ECL).

At a press conference in Lahore, Ms Aurangzeb said that the commissioner was neither a RO nor DRO, who were responsible for the conducting of elections.

“The commissioner has no constitutional responsibility or authority in the compilation or implementation of the execution of the election,” she said.

She said the commissioner did not accuse any RO or DRO, nor did he take any forms or any evidence to the election commission where the results of these constituencies were pending for three days. “There were hearings held in the election commission where they invited everyone to present any evidence of rigging, but Mr Chattha did not show up.”

Zulqarnain Tahir in Lahore also contributed to the report

Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2024

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