ISLAMABAD - National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) Wednesday categorically rejected PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s claim that the authority is running a secret cell in the basement of COMSATS University building to change election results of last general election.
Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the other day, addressing a press conference alleged that three officials of NADRA were running a cell in the basement of COMSATS building where results of General Elections 2013 were being changed.
A spokesman of NADRA categorically rejected PTI chief’s claim and termed it as baseless and unfounded. Clarifying the issue, he said NADRA hired two floors of COMSATS building in April 2011 to carry out electoral rolls printing for Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), which is still under NADRA’s use.
However, there are some contradictions in the statement of NADRA. At first, the statement said that COMSATS building was not in the use of authority but in the use of its sub-contractor NIFT. Then NADRA in the same statement said that building was also in the use of authority for the purpose of thumb impressions verification of the votes cast during general elections.
In a statement issued here on Wednesday, the spokesman said, “NADRA entered into agreement with Election Commission of Pakistan in the year 2011 for digitising and preparation of computerized electoral rolls at a cost of Rs 750 million and the contract is still in continuation. For this purpose NADRA hired two floors of COMSATS building.” The spokesman said subsequently, NADRA sub-contracted printing work to a private company (NIFT) through open tender process. NIFT installed its heavy duty printers at COMSATS building which were used to print only electoral rolls including photo electoral rolls that were used in general elections 2013. The printing facility is managed by NIFT, not by NADRA. It is not a printing press and has never been used for printing of ballot papers or other election material. Whereas, the printing facility has not been functional since December 2013 after the local government elections of Balochistan held on 7th December 2013, the statement said.
The NADRA clarified that ECP had assigned the task of printing ballot papers to Printing Press of Pakistan at their facilities at Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad under supervision of Pakistan Army. The NADRA or NIFT was never involved in printing of ballot papers process.
The spokesman said as per the directives of election tribunals, NADRA was carrying out its digitisation process of thumb verification in presence of election tribunals’ representatives where polling bags were being opened and relevant election material was being scanned before re-packing and re-sealing of polling bags. For this purpose NADRA is utilising the same COMSATS building facility. Once the scanning is completed, the election material is returned to corresponding election tribunal through its representative, he added.
The spokesman said, “NADRA has received the task of fingerprint verification by election tribunals against 36 constituencies all over the country (15 National Assembly and 21 provincial assembly constituencies). Till this date, NADRA has submitted its analysis report against 26 constituencies while stay/exemption has been granted by competent courts in 4 constituencies. Work is in process against 6 constituencies under “first in, first out” principle.”
Giving details of thumb verification, he said NADRA had returned election material against 26 constituencies to corresponding election tribunals after submitting its report. Election material against 10 constituencies where work is under process or stay has been granted is in possession of NADRA. In all such cases, proper handing/taking and receiving to the level of serial numbers and counts of each material are provided to respective election tribunal in advance. There is no question of misappropriating sensitive election material as its counting is carried out in presence of representative of election tribunal and then the report is reconciled at the time of returning back the material to respective election tribunal. Moreover, each report submitted by NADRA is subject to cross-examination by counsels of petitioners and respondents in the court of law. The NADRA has successfully defended its all submitted reports in respective election tribunals, he added.
About the security of the facility, the spokesman said that NADRA had managed foolproof security for the COMSATS building which included deployment of 24/7 security guards, deployment of police contingent at outer parameters, entry/exit record keeping since April 2011, CCTV cameras and recording and scanning of bags/personal items at the time of entry and exit.
The statement reminded that COMSATS building facility had been visited by Justice Shakir Ullah Jan, then acting chief election commissioner, and members of Election Commission along with secretary ECP in April 2012, he said.