ISLAMABAD: Days after dropping a bombshell by confessing that he played a role in rigging the elections to make the losers win in Rawalpindi Division, former commissioner of Rawalpindi, Liaquat Ali Chattha on Thursday supposedly backtracked on his allegations.

In a letter to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) secretary, a copy of which was seen by Dawn, Mr Chattha said last week’s press conference was held at the behest of a senior PTI leader, who also happens to be a proclaimed offender.

However, the official has not been seen since his presser containing allegations of rigging in the election last week. It is also unclear where and how the letter addressed to the ECP was written, and Mr Chattha’s current whereabouts are also unknown.

Expressing shame and embarrassment in his letter, Mr Chattha sought an apology from the nation. The former commissioner stated that the entire plan to malign state institutions was approved by “the PTI leadership”.

In his three-page letter, the official said: “The primary aim of this proposed press conference was to create sensations and drama, augmenting false narratives being built by PTI.

“I take full responsibility for my actions and surrender myself before the authorities for any kind of legal action,” he said.

“The name of the chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) was taken during my news conference on Feb 17, 2024 with the aim of creating mistrust in general public against him. The CJP did not have any role in the entire election process. However, I was specifically asked by said prominent leader of PTI to name the CJP,” he said.

The aims behind naming the CJP, the letter noted, were manifold. He was told that it would help create momentum for this entire narrative, as PTI had already been sowing seeds of doubts and distrust in the public’s minds against the CJP.

Similarly, he said the chief election commissioner (CEC) was named with the aim of raising questions about the entire election process throughout Pakistan.

“It was further decided that the press conference would be held in a coordinated manner. It was planned in advance that PTI would call for countrywide protests against the election process. The press conference was to be conducted on the specific day for which PTI had called for protests. It was as per this planning that the press conference was conducted by me on Feb 17 when PTI had called for countrywide protests,” the letter stated.

“I have remained in civil services of Punjab for past 32 years and was last posted as Commissioner Rawalpindi… After the general elections in 2018, when PTI for-med the government in Punjab,

I remained posted against senior provincial posts, including my posting as provincial secretary to the government of Punjab,“ he recalled.

While posted as provincial secretary, he claimed to have had opportunities to develop relationships with senior and prominent PTI figures . It was naturally in his “interest to develop personal relations with these prominent individuals”, and he actively did so. During this time, he developed a cordial personal friendship with one of the prominent leaders of PTI.

After the incident of May 9, 2023, like other leaders of PTI, he narrated that the said prominent PTI leader also absconded from courts, was declared a proclaimed offender, and has been in hiding.

According to Mr Chattha, after the 2024 elections, on Feb 11, the said PTI leader secretly travelled to Lahore and held a meeting with him. It was in this meeting that the PTI leader made an offer to him that if he played a role in supporting PTI’s ongoing narrative of rigging in general elections and maligning state institutions, the PTI leader would ensure a “lucrative position” for him in the future, he added.

“He informed me that this entire planning had been formulated after consultation and approval of the senior leadership of PTI. This proposal was made by the said individual considering the fact that I was about to retire from service.”

Published in Dawn, February 23rd, 2024

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