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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Senator Azam Khan Swati of PTI wants a forensic audit of RTS failure

News Analysis |

Senator Azam Khan Swati, a leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, has demanded on Friday to conduct a forensic audit of Result Transmission System (RTS) failure and allegations against the elections results.

Senator Swati and Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry were addressing a press conference in Islamabad. Later on, the senior PTI leader presented a detailed report to PM Khan on the alleged failure of RTS and suggested that PM Khan should suspend National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) Chairman Usman Mobeen.

“We need to have an independent forensic audit of the matter, but before that certain key officials, including the NADRA chairman, have to be replaced — temporarily,” said senator Swati.

The senator reiterated his demand during the press conference saying a transparent probe was not possible in the presence of the incumbent NADRA chairman. PM Khan is yet to take any action in this regard.

Read more: PTI demands Senate probe into RTS failure on Election Night

Opposition’s Reservations

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) parliamentarian Hina Pervaiz Butt has submitted a resolution in the Punjab assembly on August 15 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 states the party’s position on the issue.

PML-N has demanded that a parliamentary commission be created to investigate the failure of the RTS system and other allegations of rigging. The resolution asks that a report be presented with the findings of this investigation within a month.

Read more: RTS Failure: Why Cabinet Division fails to initiate an Enquiry?

ECP directs the Cabinet Division to form an Inquiry Committee

Moreover, amidst severe allegations of rigging in the General Elections 2018, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on 3rd 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 asked the Cabinet Division toform a committee comprising technical experts from National Telecom and Information Technology Security Board (NTISB) and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).

TORs included analysis of original concept and project of RTS and its preparation and finalization by NADRA, analysis of quality of training imparted to various users under the project, fixation of responsibility and to make recommendations for the future course of action.

Read more: PTI rendered “bat less” by ECP; Will it now oblige system…

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 for any other reasons. However, the claims of the ECP become questionable when the NADRA officials said 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.

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 the ECP managed to contact with almost 85, 000 Presiding officers across the country? Had every presiding officer agreed with the ECP and did not disclose it?

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 the NADRA was trying to hide its own weakness and putting the blame on the ECP.

Read more: RTS system failure: Who is responsible?

NADRA Rejects Allegations

In response to Swati’s press conference, NADRA said that the authority was ready to provide any explanation and present itself for any forensic audit. “There is no connection between the RTS and the RMS and the RTS remained completely functional [throughout the compilation of results of the General Elections],” the NADRA spokesperson said.

This is a sensitive matter since it is about the credibility of the General Elections in which the PTI has managed to secure considerable lead. PM Khan is expected to ensure transparent investigation of the matter and those responsible for this wrongdoing whether in ECP or NADRA are brought before the public to maintain the credibility of the institution and, above all, the results of the general elections 2018.