Pakistan official admits involvement in rigging election results

Pakistan’s election commission will ‘hold an enquiry’ after Rawalpindi commissioner Liaqat Ali Chattha’s announcement.

Supporters of Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party protest against the alleged election rigging, in Karachi [Rizwan Tabassum/AFP]Published On 17 Feb 202417 Feb 2024

A senior bureaucrat in Pakistan has said he helped rig Pakistan’s elections, a week after polls marred by allegations of manipulation returned no clear winner.

On Saturday, Liaqat Ali Chattha, commissioner of the garrison city of Rawalpindi, where the country’s powerful military has its headquarters, said he would hand himself over to police and step down from his position.

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“We converted the losers into winners, reversing margins of 70,000 votes in 13 national assembly seats,” he told reporters, also implicating the head of the election commission and the country’s top judge.

According to Pakistan’s Dawn News, the commissioner admitted he was “deeply involved in serious crime like mega election rigging 2024” and said that “stabbing the country in its back” does not allow him sleep.

“I should be punished for the injustice I have done and others who were involved in this injustice should also be punished,” he added.

After Chattha’s announcement, Rawalpindi senior superintendent of police operations, Kamran Asghar, told Dawn the commissioner had not been arrested as no case was filed against him.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s election commission rejected Chattha’s allegations, but said in a statement that it would “hold an enquiry”.

In a news release, the electoral watchdog also said none of its officials ever issued any instructions to Chattha for a “change in the election results”.

But a leading advocacy group, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, said that this confession revealed the “involvement of the state bureaucracy in rigging in Pakistan is beginning to be exposed”.

Protesters block the Peshawar to Islamabad highway as they protest against the alleged skewing in Pakistan’s national election results [File: Abdul Majeed / AFP]

Thousands protest

Meanwhile on Saturday, thousands of people rallied in more than a dozen cities, including the capital Islamabad, claiming that the vote was rigged.

Reporting from Islamabad, Al Jazeera’s Kamal Hyder said tens of thousands came out to protest despite the fact that the government had imposed a restriction on public gatherings.

“People are coming from all walks of life. Women, children and entire families … have converged at the Press Club in Islamabad. They say their mandate has been stolen and the government is trying to put an illegitimate government into power which lost the election.”

After nearly a week of political drama following a fractured mandate delivered by the country’s voters in the February 8 elections, a six-party alliance led by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN), which won 75 seats, and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), which secured 54 seats is set to form the next government.

However, according to the official results the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the party of former Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is currently incarcerated on multiple convictions, emerged as a clear winner of the elections, winning a total of 93 seats.


In a post on X on Saturday, PMLN termed the Rawalpindi Commissioner’s actions as “a cheeky move a few days before his retirement” and “a cheap publicity tactic”. Chattha is due to retire on March 13.

“The person has alleged that the PMLN candidates were pressured to give a lead of 70, 70,000, while the facts are completely different from his accusation,” the political party said.

However, from prison, PTI’s Khan called Chattha’s confession “incriminating”.

“His statement serves as a stark revelation of the countrywide systematic manipulation of election results where PTI’s significant leads were deceitfully tampered into losses, depriving the people of their rightful mandate, not only in the National Assembly but also in Provincial Assemblies,” Khan said in a post on the social media platform X.

“PTI also calls for a fair investigation and meaningful trial of all those involved in this brazen mandate theft,” he added.

Senior PTI official Ali Muhammad Khan told reporters in Islamabad that Chattha’s statement proved his party was cheated. “We must be returned our mandate,” he said.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies