Islamabad - As the controversy surrounding the crash of the Result Transmission System (RTS) during elections deepens amidst an inquiry into the malaise, it is likely that the buck will be passed on the NADRA that had developed the data-based application.
The Rs110 million project that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had outsourced to the NADRA on a turnkey basis caused ripples among the contesting candidates and political parties alike for the inordinate delay in transmission of election results by the returning officers.
Consequently, the losing political and candidates flatly held the ECP responsible for the crash and demanded immediate resignation of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC).
As the demand from the opposition parties for the CEC’s resignation intensified, the ECP on Thursday decided to conduct an inquiry into the failure of its RTS app during the general election.
The ECP asked the Cabinet Division to probe the matter by constituting a committee comprising experts from the National Telecommunication and Information Technology Security Board and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to fix the responsibility.
According to the terms of reference of the inquiry, the committee will thoroughly analyze RTS, fix responsibility for its failure and also make recommendations for a future course of action.
In a related development on Friday, former Senate chairman and PPP central leader Raza Rabbani demanded that the issue be probed by the Committee of the Whole of the Senate in the upcoming session.
In a press statement, he said that “the ECP letter purported to be under Article 202 read with Article 218(3), Constitution, 1973, to the Secretary, Cabinet Division, to constitute an inquiry committee with reference to and pertaining with the failure of RTS on the 25th July 2018, is an attempt at a whitewash and is rejected”.
According to him, the terms of reference, as reported in the media, “are vague, unspecific and do not touch the core issues involved in the failure of the system”.
He said that the failure of RTS was brought into question the entire general election 2018, which were already marred by pre-poll rigging. The failure of the system has given rise to a great political instability in the federation.
He further said that the proposed terms of reference make no mention to the controversy generated by NADRA’s statement that the system was functional.
Rabbani demanded that the seriousness of the issue at hand requires that the question of the failure of the RTS or otherwise the inquired into by the Committee of the Whole of the Senate in the upcoming session.
On the other hand, major opposition parties including the PML-N, the PPP and the MMA believed that the ECP cannot absolve itself of its primary responsibility and demanded a thorough probe into the entire fiasco.
“We shall not accept findings of any inquiry which absolves the ECP of its responsibility and failure in holding free, fair and transparent July 25 general elections”, said a central leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.
Political analysts also blamed the ECP not only for its failure in conducting free, fair and transparent elections but also for failing to enhance its capacity since the electoral body got autonomy in the wake of the eighteenth constitutional amendment.