Senior official says he helped rig Pakistan elections

Senior official says he helped rig Pakistan elections
Senior official says he helped rig Pakistan elections

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - File photo of supporters of Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party blocking Peshawar to Islamabad highway as they protest against the alleged skewing in Pakistan’s national election results, in Peshawar on February 12, 2024. ― AFP pic

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Feb 17 ― A senior bureaucrat said today he helped rig Pakistan’s elections, a week after polls marred by allegations of manipulation returned no clear winner.

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.

There have been widespread allegations of rigging after authorities switched off the country’s mobile phone network on election day and the count took more than 24 hours.

The army-backed Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), short of a majority, has announced a partnership with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and a handful of smaller parties to form the next government.

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Chattha said he personally supervised rigging of votes in Rawalpindi, before stepping down from his post.

“We converted the losers into winners, reversing margins of 70,000 votes in 13 national assembly seats,” he told reporters.

“For committing such a heinous crime, I will hand myself over to the police,” he said, also implicating the head of the election commission and the country’s top judge.

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

Leading advocacy group the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said after Chattha’s announcement that the “involvement of the state bureaucracy in rigging in Pakistan is beginning to be exposed”.

Candidates from the PML-N and PPP claimed most of the seats in Rawalpindi, sweeping aside candidates loyal to jailed former prime minister Imran Khan ― the target of a sweeping crackdown.

Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party announced it would stage nationwide protests against the alleged rigging on Saturday.

PTI defied a months-long crackdown that shattered its campaigning and forced candidates to run as independents, gaining more votes than any other party.

But it has been unwilling to enter a coalition with its opponents, paving the way for PML-N to form the next government. ― AFP

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