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Thursday, February 15, 2024

PML-N submits a resolution in Punjab Assembly to seek inquiry into RTS failure

News Analysis |

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has submitted a resolution in the Punjab assembly to seek an inquiry into the failure of the Election Commission of Pakistan’s Results Transmission System (RTS) on election night. “The sudden failure of the RTS system is synonymous with rigging,” the resolution stated, reiterating the party’s position on the issue.

In the resolution, submitted by PLM-N parliamentarian Hina Pervaiz Butt, the PML-N has demanded that a parliamentary commission is created to investigate the failure of the RTS system and other allegations of rigging. The resolution asks for a report to be presented with the findings of this investigation within a month. ECP directs the Cabinet Division to form an Inquiry Committee:

The most important point is that if the ECP was deliberately delaying the results and directed the presiding officers not to use the RTS, then how did the ECP manage to contact with almost 85, 000 Presiding officers across the country

Amidst severe allegations of rigging in the General Elections 2018, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), on the 3rd of August, directed the Cabinet Division to form an inquiry committee to investigate the causes of alleged failure of the Result transmission System (RTS) during July 25 general elections.

According to media reports, the ECP said the Cabinet Division should form a committee comprising of technical experts from National Telecom and Information Technology Security Board (NTISB) and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).

Read more: RTS system failure: Who is responsible?

Moreover, the committee has been asked to analyze the RTS project, the “concept of RTS in terms of its implementability”; its preparation and finalization by National Database Regulatory Authority (NADRA); the quality and extent of training imparted to its users, the “train of events taking place on the night of July 25 and thereafter”; fix responsibility [for any malfunction] and make recommendations for the future, according to the terms of reference decided by the commission showed a letter written to the Cabinet Division secretary.

Form 45 Controversy

The controversy got momentum when the political parties alleged, on the night of the elections, that their political agents were not being given Form 45. The ECP, however, rejected the allegations and assured the nation that everything was going according to the rules. The ECP also clarified that the results were being delayed due to the failure of RTS, and not any other reasons. However, the claims of the ECP become questionable when NADRA officials said that the RTS was working properly without any disruption and it was the ECP which directed the presiding officers not to use the system and reach to the office of the ROs.

Read more: Who controlled RTS, how it collapsed and who benefitted?

Experts in Pakistan challenge the claims made by the officials of NADRA. Senior anchorperson, Dr. Moeed Pirzada said “RTS was developed solely by NADRA, it was custodian, operator on key turn basis; RTS suddenly failed or was made to fail around 11.30pm; first blame was thrown on “Umer Saif” of PITB & now key officials appear to be blaming ECP which wants full investigation. Dawn is being misled”

He also pointed out that “Dawn story misleading & NADRA claims bogus; ECP could not have ordered 85,000 Presiding Officers to stop sending Form 45; this was either a genuine failure or deliberate act, but whatever happened inside NADRA – I might appear on Dunya TV to tell.”

The most important point is that if the ECP was deliberately delaying the results and directed the presiding officers not to use the RTS, then how did the ECP manage to contact with almost 85, 000 Presiding officers across the country? Has every presiding officer agreed with the ECP and not disclosed it? For many political commentators in Pakistan, the claims being made by the officials of NADRA do not make any sense but reflect two points; either someone within NADRA intentionally delayed the results by introducing an untested RTS, or that NADRA is now deliberately making the results controversial and questionable.

Read more: Failure of RTS on Election Day under investigation

It is also important to mention here that the spokesperson of the ECP has categorically rejected the allegations of the NADRA officials. The ECP spokesperson Nadeem Qasim has said that NADRA was not trying to hide its own weakness and putting the blame on the ECP. The committee has been given the task to probe into a highly sensitive matter. It is now hoped that the committee will come up with something concrete to determine, as to what caused the delay in the results on 25th July General Elections?