PTI calls for judicial commission to probe ex-Rawalpindi commissioner’s rigging revelations

Published February 18, 2024
PTI leaders Gohar Ali Khan and Omar Ayub Khan speak to the media in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV
PTI leaders Gohar Ali Khan and Omar Ayub Khan speak to the media in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV

The PTI on Sunday demanded the formation of a judicial commission to probe the rigging allegations made by the former Rawalpindi commissioner.

Another layer of controversy was added to the already disputed Feb 8 elections on Saturday after Rawalpindi Commissioner Liaquat Ali Chattha accused the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa of involvement in ‘rigging’ — a claim denied by the electoral watchdog and the top judge.

These allegations came almost a week after the polls on a day when PTI and other political parties decided to kick-start their nationwide anti-rigging campaign, claiming they were deprived of their mandate through “massive rigging”.

The commissioner, who has now been transferred to the Services and General Administration Department (SGAD) in Lahore, was scheduled to hold a press conference regarding the Pakistan Super League (PSL) arrangements at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium. But instead of the presser, he had an informal chat with reporters in which he made the startling claims.

According to Chattha, he was disclosing the information about alleged irregularities in the election on the call of his conscience. He also accused CEC Sikandar Sultan Raja and Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa of being a part of the “rigging plan”.

He said that he had decided to resign and took responsibility for supervising the theft of public mandate by changing the results of 13 National Assembly constituencies in six districts of Rawalpindi Division.

He said that he had decided to resign and took responsibility for supervising the theft of public mandate by changing the results of 13 National Assembly constituencies in six districts of Rawalpindi Division. Chattha alleged the candidates who were “losing” the elections “were made to win” and that the process to justify the manipulated results was still going in “an organised manner at some offices”.

Both the CJP and the ECP rejected the allegations, with the former saying the Supreme Court only dealt with election-related petitions.

In a press conference in Islamabad today, PTI leader Gohar Ali Khan said that the party had “struggled” for elections in the country. He said that the party made efforts for having free, fair and timely elections in the country where everyone was granted a level-playing field.

He then lamented how efforts were made to keep the party out of the electoral arena. “But you all saw how on Feb 8 people heeded Imran Khan’s call and turned out in huge numbers to vote.,” he said.

Gohar said that the PTI had won “180 seats” in the National Assembly; 42 seats in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 115 in Punjab, 16 in Sindh, and four in Balochistan.

However, he went on to say that the party’s success was not reflected in the results of the Feb 8. “We were given one seat in Balochistan, three are due. In Sindh, we did not get a single seat, they are all due. In Punjab, around 50 seats are due.”

He further asserted that after the votes cast on Feb 8 were counted, there was a deliberate delay in announcing the provisional results.

“An our majority in Punjab was diluted. Our majority in Sindh removed and the seats in Balochistan were also reduced. This is why, from day one, we have only one demand — that results be declared in accordance with the Form 45.”

Commenting on the allegations by Chattha, Gohar said the remarks had corroborated what the party had been saying all along.

“This is the first time a commissioner is raising his voice according to his conscience. And he said that he made sure candidates who lost were made to win while those who won were made to lose. This corroborates what we have been saying,” he said.

“That is why the PTI demands that a judicial commission is formed and an inquiry is conducted. And not just an inquiry, but those [involved] should be made to join the inquiry,” he said, adding that the report of such an inquiry should also be shared with the people.

In response to a question, Gohar asserted that the party was not calling for the resignation of the chief justice.

Omar Ayub Khan, the PTI’s candidate for prime minister, asserted that the party would form governments in the Centre and the provinces. He recalled how some had commented that the party would not have candidates or polling agents for the elections.

“We had the highest number of candidates who filed their nomination papers, polling agents were also present […] and PTI won 180 [NA] seats,” he said.

Omar said that the objective of party-backed candidates who won the Feb 8 polls would be to go to the assemblies and take steps for the release of Imran, Bushra Bibi, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Pervez Elahi as well as women workers and activists.

Commenting on Chattha’s remarks, Omar noted that a commissioner was a “very important position”. He called for a fresh Form 47 to be issued in accordance with the results calculated in the Form 45.

He further said that the “rigging” carried out against the party was the “mother of all rigging” and was rejected by the party.

Regarding Chattha’s claims, Omar said that a judicial inquiry should be conducted involving independent judges. “And those who have been named by the Rawalpindi commissioner should not be a part of this inquiry.”

Noting that CJP Isa had been named, he called on the top judge to “not become a part of the Supreme Court bench”. He further said that there should be a free and fair judicial inquiry so that the people could see that one’s mandate could not be stolen.

In response to a question, he reiterated that the party desired an independent inquiry and that those “accused” by Chattha should not part of this inquiry.

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