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Pakistani Official Admits to Helping Rig Vote

WorldPakistani Official Admits to Helping Rig Vote

A senior Pakistani official confessed on Saturday to helping manipulate results in the country’s elections — a startling claim strengthening a sense that the vote was among the least credible in Pakistan’s history, and deepening the turmoil that has seized the country ever since people went to the polls this month.

The official, Liaquat Ali Chatha, is a top administrative official in Punjab Province overseeing Rawalpindi, a garrison city where the military has its headquarters, and three adjacent districts. He said he would resign from his position and turn himself in to the police.

“We converted losers into winners, reversing margins of 70,000 votes of independent candidates for 13 national Parliament seats,” he said at a news conference on Saturday, referring to moving votes from independent candidates aligned with Imran Khan, the former prime minister whose party the military had sought to sideline ahead of the vote. He suggested other high-ranking officials had been a part of the scheme, and said he was unable to sleep at night after “stabbing the country in its back.”

Mr. Chatha’s admission came just over a week since Pakistanis went to the polls for the first time since Mr. Khan fell out with the military and was ousted by Parliament in 2022. Most had expected an easy victory for the party backed by the country’s powerful military, but instead, candidates aligned with Mr. Khan won more seats than any other party, though they fell short of a simple majority.

Mr. Khan was not on the ballot, being imprisoned and disqualified from running for office after convictions for crimes his supporters called trumped-up, yet the victory was clearly his. It was one of the biggest upsets in electoral history in Pakistan, where the military has typically engineered election results by winnowing the field of candidates using intimidation, clearing the way for its preferred party to win.

The success of candidates aligned with Mr. Khan’s party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, or P.T.I., upended that playbook and pushed the country’s political scene into uncharted territory.

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