ISLAMABAD: The prevailing stalemate between the government and the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf was jolted yesterday night when a former official of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), who was directly involved in the preparations for and execution of the general elections of 2013, came out in support of Imran Khan’s allegations of electoral rigging.
The legacy of the elections has been marred by allegations, and proof of rigging along with tampering within the bureaucracy.
The secretary of the Election commission resigned and said that ‘historic rigging’ was seen in these elections which had been unprecedented before.
Mohammad Afzal Khan, who also goes by the name of Afzal Qadhafi, appeared on the ARY News show ‘Khara Such’, hosted by Mubasher Lucman and alleged that the general elections were ‘massively rigged’ and pointed the finger squarely at former chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry and retired Justice Riaz Ahmed Kiani, the ECP member from Punjab.
Afzal was the additional secretary at the ECP from 2012 until his retirement just after the elections in May last year.
He began his career as a journalist with the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan in 1979 and served there until 1996. He then joined the ECP as director of Public Relations, where he worked until 2003.
He was appointed the NWFP information secretary the next year, but returned to the ECP as the provincial election commissioner for the same province from July 2008 to March 2010.
In April 2010, he took charge as a joint secretary at ECP headquarters in Islamabad.
The post was re-designated in January 2012 and Afzal was made a director general, a position he retained until his elevation to his penultimate post. It is not clear what made him keep quiet for over 14 months since his retirement.
Afzal alleged that the chief justice had interfered in the ECP’s mandate by appointing returning officers (ROs), but managed to cover up his own wrongdoings by influencing the erstwhile Chief Election Commissioner, retired Justice Fakharuddin G Ebrahim.
“To save his skin, the CJP ordered Fakhru Bhai to submit an application seeking the apex court’s assistance in appointing ROs,” Afzal revealed.
Referring to the scandal around the ‘35 punctures’ that Imran Khan often talks about, Mohamad Afzal Khan alleged that those involved in fixing the elections had applied a lot more than ‘35 punctures’.
“The chief election commissioner was a silent spectator while Justice Kiani played a major role. He is the man who tarnished the image of the ECP,” he said
“Everyone, myself included, was involved in the rigging process in one way or the other,” he added.
To a query, he said that Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan should be asked who told him that votes polled in the 2013 elections were unverifiable.
Talking about the role of election tribunals, the former ECP additional secretary claimed that these too were used to cover up rigging.
Meanwhile, the Pakistani rupee has lost more than four percent against the dollar in a little over two weeks as an on-going political crisis weighs on the economy, analysts said yesterday.
The slide began when cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan vowed to march on the capital to stage sit-ins aimed at toppling the government, which he accuses of rigging last year’s election.
The currency fell from 98.85 to the dollar on August 8 to 103 rupees to the dollar in the official interbank market yesterday -- a slide of 4.2 percent.