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PM urged to form probe panel over RTS failure

ISLAMABAD: Senate Standing Committee on Interior Chairman and Senate-nominated coordinator to monitor and oversee the general elections 2018, Senator Rehman Malik has written a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan, urging him to order constitution of a technical committee to investigate the failure of Result Transmitting System (RTS) during the last general elections.

The senator said the letter was addressed to the prime minister as he also holds the portfolio of the Ministry of Interior and by virtue of that “he is ex-officio member of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior; hence, it is mandatory on him to fully assist and attend the committee.

Expressing his displeasure, Malik writes that in response to the committee letter about the RTS failure on July 26, 2018, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had directed the Cabinet Division on August 2, 2018 to constitute a committee consisting of technical experts from the National Telecommunication and Information Technology Security Board (NTISB) and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) but the notification of the technical committee has yet to be issued despite the lapse of three weeks.

Congratulating Imran on becoming prime minister, the senator writes: “I and on behalf of the members of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior, would like to congratulate you on assuming the charge of office of the prime minister of Pakistan and the Minister of Interior.”

“I would like to inform you that the Senate Standing Committee on Interior and the Upper House Coordinating Committee was empowered by the Senate House vide notification No.21(1)/2018-Legis. dated 12th July, 2018, for monitoring the free, fair and transparent elections 2018. I would also like to inform you that the committee had written a letter to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) vide letter dated 26th July, 2018 for investigation into the failure of RTS.

“The ECP, in response to the advice of this committee, wrote to the Cabinet Division vide letter dated 2nd August, 2018 for constitution and notification of a technical committee to probe the alleged failure of the Result Transmission System (RTS) on the Elections Day – 25th July, 2018.”

Highlighting the importance of the technical committee, Malik emphasises, “The report of the technical committee is required to enable the committee to complete the probe based on technical and other evaluation of the RTS as there are numerous complaints received regarding the RTS failure, which needs to be examined in the greater public interest.”

Malik writes that the matter was referred to the Cabinet Division on August 2, 2018 by the Election Commission of Pakistan, asking to constitute a committee consisting of technical experts from NTISB and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), but the notification of the technical committee has not yet been issued by the Cabinet Division despite lapse of three weeks.”

Urging the intervention of the prime minister, Malik writes, “I, therefore, call upon you as the Interior Minister of Pakistan to kindly intervene to have the said committee notified at the earliest.”

Emphasising the work so far done by the Senate Standing Committee on Interior, Malik expressed that the panel on interior/ upper house coordinating committee is progressing well and second volume of the investigation report is being laid in the Senate House on 27th August, 2018.

He adds that the Senate Standing Committee on Interior and Upper House Coordinating Committee is probing into various complaints received from political parties, the media and general public and have shown their concerns on alleged failure of the RTS duly designed and controlled by NADRA.

Malik concludes his letter with the demand: “I would like to request that the Cabinet or Interior Division may kindly be directed to notify the constitution of the said proposed technical committee to investigate failure of RTS without further loss of time”.

The controversy around the RTS, a mobile application created by Nadra and employed by the ECP to relay results

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from polling stations to the commission, had begun when ECP secretary claimed late into July 25 that the system had ‘malfunctioned’.

Political parties, including the PPP and the PML-N, have since demanded a parliamentary commission into the matter while Nadra officials have denied that the RTS crashed on election eve. They instead went on to claim that it could have been the commission’s Result Management System (RMS) that may have crashed adding that Nadra received results from around 50 per cent of polling stations before the commission directed its officers to stop using RTS.

The ECP has continued to insist that the delay in announcement of results, which had cast doubts on the fairness of the entire electoral process, had been because of the fault in RTS.

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