–PML-N, PPP have already termed the proposed inquiry commission an eyewash
–NADRA, ECP blame each other
Questioning the role of the Results Transmission System (RTS) in the recently held elections, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) joined the other two major parties, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), in demanding a probe into reasons why it failed.
PTI leader Senator Azam Khan Swati on Sunday submitted a call-to-attention notice to the Senate Secretariat and demanded an investigation into the alleged failure of the RTS on election day to ascertain whether it had an impact on the election results.
“Throughout the day, the election process was carried out in a fair and transparent manner. How is it that at the time of transmitting the results, the system stopped functioning?” the PTI leader questioned in the notice.
Furthermore, he has demanded a probe into the parties responsible for the system’s supposed malfunctioning and urged that the Senate be apprised of the investigation’s findings.
PML-N and PPP have already called the proposed inquiry commission on the RTS a mere eyewash, claiming that its terms of reference (ToR) are vague and fall short of addressing the core issue — did the system really crash or not?
On Friday, former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani lashed out on Friday at the electoral body, calling the constitution of the committee a “mere sham”.
“We reject Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Secretary Babar Yaqoob’s letter to constitute a probe committee,” Rabbani said. “Formation of a committee to probe into the failure of the RTS system is a mere sham. The terms of reference (TORs) to form the committee are ambiguous and they ignore the main issue,” he added.
The PPP leader noted that ToRs of the committee did not mention the statement of National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) that had said the system was functional.
ECP ORDERS CONSTITUTION OF AN INQUIRY COMMITTEE:
On Friday, ECP wrote a letter to the Cabinet Division secretary and directed him to constitute an inquiry committee consisting of technical experts from the National Telecommunication and Information Technology Security Board (NTISB) and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to probe into the RTS episode during the conduct of polls on July 25 and afterward. ECP also recommended that the committee should present a report on the matter within a month.
Amid severe criticism by political parties, the ECP had blamed the collapse for the unusual delay in the results on election day.
ECP secretary Babar Yaqoob on July 26 had said that the delay was not caused by any “wicked conspiracy or pressure”.
The results were delayed as the result transmission system malfunction while data pertaining to results was entered into it, he added.
“The RTS system had not been tested in Pakistan,” he remarked.
Contrary to ECP secretary’s claims, a local news outlet reported that Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) had tested the RTS and had informed ECP about its vulnerability. The report further added ECP did not address PITB’s concerns and used RTS in the 2018 General Elections.
NADRA, ECP BLAME EACH OTHER:
On Thursday, another news outlet reported that NADRA had showed the “computer log” to the secretary, depicting normal transmission of the results through the system. But they were simply told by the ECP officials that they had decided to stop using the RTS because it had started “malfunctioning”
The report further added that NADRA officials did not know the reason for all this faux pas, but they believed that perhaps it was the ECP’s own costly Result Management System (RMS) that had stopped functioning and the ECP had put the blame on NADRA only as a cover-up. They said that RTS and RMS were independent systems and there was no integration between the two.
ECP spokesperson Nadeem Qasim refuted NADRA’S claim that RMS might have failed on the election night, reiterating the stance that the RTS had crashed. He alleged that NADRA was making these claims only to hide its own “weaknesses”.
He explained that under the plan, the presiding officers were in any case required to reach the RO offices under the “security cover” even after sending the results through the RTS to physically submit Forms 45. However, he said, after the “collapse” of the RTS, the presiding officers simultaneously reached the RO offices and it took longer than the required time to enter the data of each polling station.
Referring to NADRA’s claim that 50 per cent results were transmitted through RTS, he said, “There’s no use of making claim of having such a data seven days after the results.”
He said that ECP wanted the RTS to produce results within a few hours after completion of the polling process as there was no use of the RTS otherwise. He also refuted NADRA’s claim that the RTS had no mention in the Elections Act, 2017.