News Analysis |
In a major move to frustrate the grand opposition alliance in its bid to make the July 25 elections controversial, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has uploaded the Form 45 from all the constituencies across Pakistan online on its website. ECP has uploaded more than 150,000 Form-45 on its website. After the much-criticism and allegations of rigging from 11 political parties, ECP was under pressure to prove the transparency in the electoral process.
It has responded in the best way possible by uploading all the Form-45’s from 85,000 polling stations established across Pakistan for general elections. On Election Day, ECP and Nadra faced a major embarrassment after the controversial collapse of newly created and apparently untested Result Transmission System (RTS) controversially crashed on Election night.
RTS system collapsed mysteriously and raised quite a few eyebrows. RTS was the system which was in place to ensure that Form-45 reach the ECP control room via NADRA system.
Much to its relief, major independent observers including Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN), and European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) showed satisfaction with the electoral process on the Election Day. However, the emergence of the Grand Opposition Alliance and international media coverage thwarted its efforts to ensure the public that it acted within the constitution and ensured the free and fair elections as stipulated under the law.
After polling, when the results started pouring in, RTS system collapsed mysteriously and raised quite a few eyebrows. RTS was the system which was in place to ensure that Form-45 reach the ECP control room via NADRA system. But, the so-called collapse of the system which remains suspicious led the ECP to avert back to old and controversial manual system of counting. RTS is an android application which was supposed to enable election officers to send the results to the ECP in real time.
It was an epic failure at a crunch time which stranded the country, and threw the system into oblivion. It was a complete chaos when all the electronic media anxiously waited for the results and system stopped working. After a much-praised Election Day during which polling went smoothly without any claim of rigging, it gave a likely opportunity to the different political parties to question the electoral process.
For the first time, an online system as used to instantly share the election results from 85,000 polling stations around the country to the central headquarters in ECP. The reporters from media were present in the ECP election control room to observe the process.
Political parties have blamed ECP and military establishment over election rigging. While, on the other hand, ECP has blamed the technological failure of RTS for the delay in the release of election results
The RTS software was installed in the smartphones of all Presiding Officers (PO) who were directed to transmit Form 45 (containing tabulated results of the polling station) from their individual polling station to the ECP headquarters using their respective mobile devices. The RTS system kept running at very slow pace during the night and resultantly, ECP missed its legal deadline to announce the results by 2 am the next day.
Long before the formal announcement from ECP, political parties lambasted ECP for not providing the Form-45’s to polling agents in various constituencies cross Pakistan. According to the instruction manual, polling agents were only supposed to hand over the copies ofForm-45 after sending the results through mobile phones.
Since Presiding Officers failed to deliver the results and did not hand over the Form-45 to all the polling agents, political parties started crying foul over the issue and the entire electoral process became controversial. PML- N leadership complained of handing over the result on a piece of unofficial paper rather than issuing even the copies of the Form-45.
Political parties have blamed ECP and military establishment over election rigging. While, on the other hand, ECP has blamed the technological failure of RTS for the delay in the release of election results. It has urged the stakeholders to accept the people’s verdict. Currently, ECP is investigating the reasons behind the failure of RTS. And, Grand opposition alliance under the banner of Pakistan Alliance for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFE) is gearing up to protest in front of ECP over election rigging.
Read more: Will ECP ensure free & fair elections?
ECP’s decision to upload the Form-45 is commendable and it should clear the controversy to some extent. But, the defeated status quo parties in pursuit of their own vested interest are looking to put the entire system online.