In a U-turn, Pak ex-bureaucrat withdraws rigging allegations; says PTI hatched it

Liaquat Ali Chattha had taken the responsibility and quit the post

Pakistan elections rigging Rawalpindi Commissioner Liaquat Ali Chattha | AFP

In a volte-face, a former senior bureaucrat who alleged that 13 candidates from Pakistan's garrison city of Rawalpindi were forcefully declared winners in the elections, on Thursday withdrew his allegations and said he made the false charges after ex-prime minister Imran Khan's party offered him a "lucrative position".

"I take full responsibility for my actions and surrender myself before the authorities for any kind of legal action," Liaquat Ali Chattha, the former Commissoner of Rawalpindi, was quoted as saying by Geo News.

On Saturday, Chattha resigned from his office after "accepting responsibility" for manipulation of poll results. I am taking responsibility for all this wrongdoing and telling you that the chief election commissioner and the chief justice are also completely involved in this, he had said.

He had also accused Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa and Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja of facilitating the rigging of votes.

Retracting his allegations in a letter to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday, Chattha said that all of this was done in coordination with jailed former prime minister Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, which had promised him lucrative positions.

Chattha, who has been a civil servant for 32 years, said that after the February 8 elections, he had secretly and discreetly travelled to Lahore to meet a PTI leader on February 11.

It was in this meeting, that he made an offer to me that if I play a role in supporting the PTI's ongoing narrative of rigging in elections and maligning state institutions, he would ensure a lucrative position for me in future.

Chattha said that the PTI leader told him that the entire planning had been formulated after consultation and approval of the senior leadership of the party.

This proposal was made by the said individual in consideration of the fact that I was about to retire from service. He was also aware of the fact that I was under pressure due to this forthcoming retirement. After having remained a part of the services for 32 years, it is naturally hard for any civil servant to let go of all perks, privileges, and authorities, he said in a statement available to the media.

Initially, it was proposed by me that I would write the entire narrative and submit the same as part of my resignation. However, this proposal was dropped by the said prominent PTI leader as such written resignation would not create any sensations for their narrative building, he said.

After detailed discussions, he said, it was agreed that a press conference would be conducted by him at a time and date to be conveyed after consultation and approval of the senior PTI leadership.

The primary aim of this proposed press conference, Chattha said, was to create sensations and drama augmenting false narratives being built by the PTI.

He said that the name of Isa, the Chief Justice of Pakistan, was taken to create mistrust in the general public against him. The chief justice 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 told me that he had been specifically asked by his top leadership to do so. The aims behind naming the CJP were manifold.

Similarly, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja was named to raise questions on the entire elections process throughout Pakistan, he said.

"In the end, I feel extremely ashamed and embarrassed for making totally false, concocted, anti-state, and malicious statement in the press conference. This activity caused embarrassment for me as well as for the entire bureaucratic fraternity," he added.

Reacting to the development, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, poised to form a coalition government with the help of the Pakistan Peoples Party and others, accused former prime minister Imran Khan's party of trying to make the elections controversial.

"Shame on PTI, behind every propaganda it is PTI!! They tried to make the elections controversial! Tarnished the image of Pakistan!" the party said in a post on X.

His allegations came amidst Khan's party's nationwide protests against alleged rigging and stealing of its mandate in the February 8 elections. Chattaha's allegations came in handy for the PTI to back up its claim that its candidates failed to win due to vote rigging.

Pakistan's election commission had formed a high-level committee to probe the explosive allegations levelled by him.

The Election Commission of Pakistan has strongly rejected the allegations against the chief election commissioner made by Chattha.

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