Pakistan: Top Poll Body Forms High-Level Committee to Probe Allegations of Election Rigging

Pakistan: Top Poll Body Forms High-Level Committee to Probe Allegations of Election Rigging

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Last Updated: February 18, 2024, 13:10 IST

PTI supporters watch the general election results at a PTI office in Islamabad, Pakistan February 8, 2024. (Reuters)

PTI supporters watch the general election results at a PTI office in Islamabad, Pakistan February 8, 2024. (Reuters)

Pakistan’s election commission forms committee to investigate allegations of rigging in Rawalpindi. PTI protests against alleged election fraud

Pakistan’s top election body has formed a high-level committee to probe the explosive allegations levelled by a senior bureaucrat that rigging happened against former prime minister Imran Khan’s party in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.

Former Rawalpindi Commissioner Liaquat Ali Chattha on Saturday alleged that the candidates who were “losing” the elections “were made to win” in the city. He claimed that 13 candidates from Rawalpindi were forcefully declared winners. His remarks came amid jailed ex-PM Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf: party began nationwide protests against alleged rigging and stealing of its mandate in the February 8 elections.

“I am taking the responsibility for all this wrongdoing and telling you that the chief election commissioner and the chief justice are also completely involved in this,” he was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper. Chattha resigned from his office after ”accepting responsibility” for the manipulation of poll results. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has strongly rejected the allegations Chattha has made against the chief election commissioner.

The ECP held an emergency meeting to discuss the commissioner’s allegations and formed a high-level committee to probe the allegations. Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja attended the meeting via video link. In light of the committee’s report, the election regulator would decide whether or not the commissioner be tried for contempt.

The high-level committee will record the statements of the relevant district returning officers and returning officers and submit its report to the ECP within three days. The newly-appointed Rawalpindi Commissioner, Saif Anwar Jappa, rejected all the accusations made by the former commissioner regarding irregularities in the February 8 general elections. He clarified that the commissioner’s role in the polls was only for coordination.

Stressing the fairness and accuracy of the recent elections, the District Returning Officer (DRO) for Rawalpindi assured that the elections were conducted with complete transparency and without any external pressure on them. Meanwhile, a nationwide disruption in social media platform X’s service has been reported in Pakistan due to the “escalating unrest and protests” over allegations of election fraud, according to Internet tracking organisation NetBlocks. In a post on X, the organisation added that the disruption took place “following a high-level resignation and public admission of vote manipulation by a senior election official”.

Independent candidates – a majority backed by the PTI party – won 93 of the 265 National Assembly seats that were contested in the February 8 election. The PTI’s two main rivals appear on course to form a coalition government after former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) formed a post-poll alliance last week. The PML-N won 75 seats while the PPP came third with 54 seats. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P) has also agreed to support them with their 17 seats. To form a government, a party must win 133 seats out of 265 contested seats in the 266-member National Assembly.

(With agency inputs)



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