Kanwar Muhammad Dilshad |
NADRA is a sensitive organization that maintains a database of 22 Crore Pakistani citizens. This database can be effectively used for the benefit of the common man as well as rolling out good governance initiatives. Simultaneously, NADRA data is critically sensitive and demands that the position of Chairman NADRA being the custodian of data should be a person with the highest integrity and impeccable character.
On 8th February 2018, Usman Mobin was reappointed as Chairman NADRA for another term of three years by violating merit and rules and procedures. His appointment was made by Mr. Ahsan Iqbal, ex-Federal Minister for Interior without lawful authority.
ECP, in its official response, has termed “Failure of RTS” as the only cause of delayed result announcement.
Careful scrutiny of the Ministry of Interior summary for an appointment of Chairman NADRA reveals that a merit list of 51 candidates was issued by the Scrutiny Committee head by Additional Secretary Interior. But later, on the instructions of Mr. Ahsan Iqbal, the merit list was changed in favor of Mr. Usman Mobin and his appointment notification as Chairman NADRA was issued.
The performance of the incumbent Federal Government depends on strengthening public sector institutions. This objective cannot be achieved unless the top management of such organizations– as NADRA has a key role in rolling out initiatives of incumbent government– is appointed on basis of their performance, capability, and integrity…
On Election Day, Pakistan faced major embarrassment due to ECP and NADRA after the controversial collapse of newly created and apparently untested Result Transmission System (RTS) on Election night. The question remains, did the RTS really crash? Or was it a deliberate effort from certain elements to sabotage the credibility of the election process.
RTS Fact Sheet
1. ECP awarded NADRA with a contract worth Rs.180 Million (18 Crore) for development of RTS. In absence of tendering process, price reasonability could not be established by NADRA. Multiple government institutions like the Ministry of IT, NTC, PTA, PITB or KPIT could have participated in the tender and NADRA could have awarded RTS contract to the lowest bidder. It is considered the opinion of the experts that market cost of developing Android/ IOS application at a scale like RTS is less than 2million. It was the obligation of NADRA to follow the rules of Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA).
2. Provision of RTS was made in the Election Act, 2017 by the last Parliament under section 13(2)
“The Presiding Officer shall immediately take the snapshot of the Result of the Count and, as soon as connectivity is available and it is practicable, electronically send it to the Commission and the Returning Officer (RO) before sending the original documents under section 90.”
Its untimely failure is beyond comprehension and definitely not a matter of 3G/4G bandwidth or capacity issues of NADRA technical infrastructure.
3. It was a turn-key project and complete technical and operational control of RTS was with NADRA. ECP and RO had read-only access to data. All servers of RTS were installed at NADRA HQ Islamabad and were managed by NADRA technical team.
4. Under the obligation of the contract, NADRA was tasked to prepare a front-end module for Presiding Officers (PO) through which they could send the photo of Form – 45 (polling station result). Another module was prepared for ROs to receive Form -45 from their respective Presiding Officers. In addition, access to RTS was given to ECP and PTV for displaying progressive results.
5. Another application i.e. Result Management System (RMS) was prepared by ECP in collaboration with UNDP. It was meant for ROs to compile Constituency Result (Form – 47). Although it was not directly connected with RTS, yet RMS could only perform if polling station results were received timely through RTS.
Read more: RTS system failure: Who is responsible?
6. On Election night, RTS worked smoothly till 11 pm. But after that RTS failed in a clandestine manner and POs across the country could not send polling station results to ROs through RTS. Its untimely failure is beyond comprehension and definitely not a matter of 3G/4G bandwidth or capacity issues of NADRA technical infrastructure.
7. The failure of RTS created a panic among masses and multiple political parties reacted to the situation immediately with showing their lack of confidence on vote counting process.
8. At 2 am, Secretary ECP through a press conference announced that RTS has failed and all POs have been instructed to manually forward their polling station results to their respective Returning Officers.
The answer to the question that whether RTS crashed or it was a deliberate attempt to sabotage the credibility of GE2018 lies in the outcome of a forensic audit.
9. ECP, in its official response, has termed “Failure of RTS” as the only cause of delayed result announcement. The ROs could not prepare result of their respective constituency due to unavailability of polling station results being transmitted electronically (through RTS) by the Presiding Officers.
10. NADRA’s official response on RTS controversy that “RTS did not fail and RTS had nothing to do with election result announcement” is against the facts and in contradiction with Election Act 2017 and the contract signed between ECP and NADRA. In fact, the timely announcement of election results was dependent on the smooth functioning of RTS being developed and operated by NADRA.
The failure of RTS at a critical juncture has created unnecessary shadows of doubt on GE 2018. It is up to the Government to conduct a detailed forensic audit of NADRA RTS after suspending key players in NADRA management so that they cannot influence the forensic auditor mutilate technical evidence. The answer to the question that whether RTS crashed or it was a deliberate attempt to sabotage the credibility of GE2018 lies in the outcome of a forensic audit.
Kanwar Dilshad is the former Secretary to the Election Commission of Pakistan and worked in the organization for over 30 years. He is currently the chairperson for the National Democratic Foundation. The foundation’s work is to grow and strengthen democracy in Pakistan. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.