–ECP warns against use of iVote system by overseas Pakistanis during Oct 14 by-polls
ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday said that a phone call, which was made on the night of the July 25 general polls and identified the failure of Results Transmission System (RTS), has been sent to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to run a forensic audit and determine the person behind the instructions.
Senior ECP officials, including IT DG Khizar Aziz and Law DG Arshad Mehmood, shared this development with the Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs during a briefing on the ‘RTS failure’ chaired by Senator Sassui Palijo.
A letter from the ECP to the FIA was also produced during the briefing. The letter, dated August 30, said that a USB drive containing soundbite of the phone call has been sent to the agency to run forensic tests to identify the person that had made the phone call.
The Senate committee was told that the RTS had only yielded 20 per cent results when it was tested in PP-20 (Chakwal) ahead of the elections.
“A number of returning officers in the district did not have the kind of mobile phones required [to upload the results],” the ECP members said.
At this, Senator Javed Abbasi asked why the ECP had not objected to the use of RTS if it had such faults.
“In fact, at that time, the ECP had claimed to have a backup system,” Abbasi pointed out.
“The ECP had expressed its reservations regarding the RTS system. In fact, it was said on May 21 that the RTS trial had failed,” the committee chairman said.
According to the ECP members, the RTS was not even part of the Election Act [then bill] till August 6, 2017.
“The system was made part of the bill on August 22, 2017,” they stated.
Meanwhile, the committee was also told that the commission has reservations on the functioning of the iVote, a software which will be used by overseas Pakistanis to exercise their right during the Oct 14 by-elections.
“The Supreme Court has been informed about the ECP’s reservations on the iVote system,” the ECP team told the Senate committee.
The Senate committee expressed dissatisfaction at ECP Secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh’s absence from the meeting.
“The by-polls are about to take place and the ECP secretary is not even in the country,” members of the committee remarked when they were told that Fateh was abroad on an official visit.
The controversy of RTS failure surfaced when the transmission of election results stopped abruptly around midnight after the polling day ended.
ECP Secretary Fateh had informed that the RTS had “collapsed” and that the commission was now returning to the traditional and manual method of tabulating the results and, therefore, there could be an inordinate delay in the announcement of the unofficial results.
However, National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), the RTS developer, had later said that the system remained fully functional and did not shut down at all during the elections.
“The RTS has no connection with Result Management System (RMS),” said a Nadra spokesperson earlier, adding that perhaps the RMS, the ECP’s own independent systems that are installed at the offices of the returning officers (ROs) for tabulation of the results, had stopped working which have no integration with the RTS.