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Sunday, April 14, 2024

“Allegations were drama,” Ex-Pindi commissioner takes U-turn

"I accept full responsibility for my actions and willingly submit myself to any legal repercussions"

In a stunning turn of events, Liaqat Ali Chatha, the former Rawalpindi commissioner, has recanted his explosive accusations concerning electoral manipulation in the February 8 elections. Expressing deep regret and shame, he confessed to feeling overwhelmingly embarrassed by his prior claims. “I accept full responsibility for my actions and willingly submit myself to any legal repercussions,” Chatha conveyed in a statement submitted to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

Hours subsequent to his testimony before the ECP’s investigative committee, Chatha retracted his earlier assertions. This reversal follows his resignation announcement last Saturday, motivated by a profound sense of guilt for his alleged involvement in orchestrating widespread electoral irregularities within the garrison city, amplifying political tensions across the nation.

During an unprecedented press briefing, Chatha admitted complicity in what he described as electoral “manipulation” within the Rawalpindi Division. He disclosed a strategy that purportedly converted electoral losers into victors by a margin of 50,000 votes. The revelation sparked demands from various political quarters, including the PTI and Jamaat-e-Islami, for a thorough investigation into the matter.

Furthermore, Chatha’s allegations extended to implicating Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa in facilitating the purported rigging. However, Chief Justice Isa promptly challenged Chatha to substantiate his claims with evidence.

“PTI leader was in contact”

Contrary to his initial accusations, Chatha unveiled a different narrative, implicating the PTI in a coordinated effort. He revealed that his actions were orchestrated in collaboration with prominent PTI figures, who allegedly promised him lucrative future prospects within the party. Chatha, boasting a 32-year career in civil service, detailed his rapport with PTI leadership, particularly one prominent figure. Following an incident in May 2023, wherein the PTI leader became a proclaimed offender, Chatha clandestinely provided assistance, fostering a close bond based on mutual trust.

The former commissioner confessed to a secret meeting with the PTI leader in Lahore post the February 8 elections. During this encounter, he purportedly received an offer to support the PTI’s narrative of electoral rigging and institutional defamation in exchange for future benefits. Chatha elucidated the planning behind his sensational press conference, intended to bolster the PTI’s false narrative. He acknowledged his role in delivering sweeping statements aimed at sensationalizing the purported rigging, including false claims of attempting suicide and advocating for public execution.

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Moreover, Chatha admitted to implicating Chief Justice Isa and Chief Election Commissioner Sikander Sultan Raja at the behest of PTI leadership, designed to sow distrust in the electoral process. Ultimately, Chatha expressed profound remorse for disseminating fabricated, anti-state allegations, acknowledging the embarrassment caused to himself and the bureaucratic community at large.