Pakistan elections 2024 | Imran Khan's PTI demands judicial probe in alleged poll rigging

Published - February 18, 2024 09:37 pm IST - Islamabad

PTI supporters chant slogans demanding free and fair results of the elections, outside the provincial election commission office in Karachi. File

PTI supporters chant slogans demanding free and fair results of the elections, outside the provincial election commission office in Karachi. File | Photo Credit: Reuters

Jailed former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's party demanded a judicial commission to probe a senior bureaucrat's allegation that the election body and the top judiciary were involved in vote rigging on Februrary 18.

Rawalpindi Commissioner Liaquat Ali Chattha on Saturday alleged that the candidates who were “losing” the elections “were made to win” in the city. Before resigning from his post, he claimed that 13 candidates from Rawalpindi were forcefully declared winners. His remarks came as jailed former prime minister Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party began nationwide protests against alleged rigging and stealing of its mandate in the February 8 elections.

“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,” Mr. Chattha said. He resigned from his office after "accepting responsibility" for the manipulation of poll results.

Senior PTI leader Barrister Gohar Ali Khan on Feb. 18 said that the party was demanding a judicial commission to investigate the claims of ‘rigged election results’ and share the probe report with the nation. He said that Mr. Chattha's allegations corroborated what the party had been saying all along. “This is the first time a Commissioner is raising his voice according to his conscience. He said that he made sure candidates who lost were made to win while those who won were made to lose. This corroborates what we have been saying,” he said.

“That is why the PTI demands that a judicial commission be formed and an inquiry be conducted. And not just an inquiry, but those [involved] should be made to join the inquiry,” he said, adding that the report of such an inquiry should also be shared with the people.

Mr. Khan also stated that the party was not calling for the resignation of Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa. He alleged that efforts were made to keep the party out of the electoral arena when people, responding to 71-year-old PTI leader Khan's call, went to the polling stations in huge numbers.

“We had won 180 seats in the National Assembly, 42 seats in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assembly, 115 in Punjab, 16 in Sindh, and four in Balochistan Assembly,” he said. He added that the PTI had been given one seat in Balochistan, and three were due. “In Sindh, we did not get a single seat, they are all due. In Punjab, around 50 seats are due,” he said.

Addressing the press conference, the party's candidate for prime minister, Omar Ayub Khan, said that the PTI would form governments in the centre and the provinces.

He said that a judicial inquiry should be conducted involving independent judges. “And those who have been named by the Rawalpindi Commissioner should not be a part of this inquiry,” Ayub added.

Earlier in the day, a PTI spokesperson demanded that Chief Election Commissioner Raja and Chief Justice Isa tender their resignations following the revelations by Mr. Chattha.

Election Commission’s probe

Meanwhile, the Election Commission of Pakistan has launched a probe following the allegations by Mr. Chattha, who has now been transferred to the Services and General Administration Department (SGAD) in Lahore.

The Government has also appointed Anwar Jappa as the new commissioner of Rawalpindi Division, which comprises the districts of Rawalpindi, Attock, Jehlum, Chakwal and Talagang.

‘Deprived of our mandate’

Earlier in the day, the party held its parliamentary committee meeting, during which party leader Ali Muhammad Khan told reporters that it was deprived of its symbol, and most of the leaders were in jail at the time of the elections, but people cast votes in favour of PTI. “Today, we hear a voice from the same place [Rawalpindi] where we were deprived of our mandate. Commissioner Rawalpindi has given proof in our favour. We have been deprived of 80 seats,” he said.

He said that on Friday, he, along with Sardar Latif Khosa, had a meeting with party founder Khan, who is in jail. “Imran Khan told us that he will forgive all the personalities just like the Holy Prophet Muhammad did after Fatah Makkah. He also gave the example of Nelson Mandela and said that he would not take revenge on anyone,” Ali said.

Meanwhile, the PPP has demanded an inquiry into the allegations. However, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has raised questions about the mental status of Mr. Chattha. PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah, while talking to Dunya News, said that Chattha seemed to be a psycho, and that is why he claimed that he tried to commit suicide.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Secretary, Information, Faisal Karim Kundi, in a video statement, said that Pakistan was passing through a very sensitive era as a new parliament was going to be formed soon.

Even after the passage of more than a week, the ECP is yet to notify the victory of most of the independent candidates who have won National Assembly (NA) seats in the general elections. The delay on the part of the ECP to officially notify the results of a majority of the independent candidates has raised concerns among their voters and stakeholders amid political wrangling over the numbers game for the formation of government in the Centre.

Under the election rules, independent candidates have three days to join a political party after official notification of their victory; so far, the ECP has notified results of 154 out of a total of 265 contested National Assembly constituencies, where elections took place on February 8.

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 PML-N and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari's 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.

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