ISLAMABAD - The Senate Standing Committee on Interior has recommended a forensic audit under the supervision of a parliamentary committee to probe into the allegations of rigging in the July 25 elections and the alleged failure of Nadra’s Result Transmission System.
During a meeting of the committee that was held here on Monday, Chairman Committee Senator Rehman Malik said that committee held multiple meetings, both formal and informal, on matter and had come to a conclusion that a forensic audit under the supervision of Parliamentary Committee was necessary to probe into the allegations of rigging, complaints and failure of RTS.
PPP Senator Rehman Malik, who was nominated as coordinator by the Senate to oversee the security and other issues of Elections 2018, said committee had already submitted two reports in the house on the issue and third one would be submitted soon. “We are fully aware of the complaints and reservations regarding the failure of the Result Transmission System (RTS) and are conducting investigations with regard to technical aspects of matter from National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) and Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). He said the committee was probing complaints and grey areas including delay in election results, failure of RTS housed in Nadra, issues related to Result Management System (RMS) housed in ECP, observations of the members on RTS and RMS, shortage of the Form 45, non-provision of Form 45 to the polling agents, ouster of polling agents from the polling stations, the number of votes rejected, failure of internet services/telephone services in the constituencies, breakdown of Internet Server at Nadra’s Headquarters and whether the server of Nadra became slow down during the operation?
Senator Asad Ali Junejo interrogated Nadra and ECP thoroughly on technical aspects of two systems. He informed the committee that in order to come to a conclusion it was imperative that audit logs of the two systems be investigated. He also asserted that routing data be examined as well along with unused ballot papers. It was suggested by some committee members that Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) be summoned in the next meeting and total costs of electioneering and its sources be delved into as well.
Senator Malik said that there were number of controversial observations raised by media and various political parties on RTS which needed to be thoroughly investigated through forensic audit by a credible organization duly supervised by parliamentary commission.
Senator Malik from his own mobile played a voice message having been received through a Whatsapp message and referred it to the Election Commission of Pakistan for its verification. The voice message states “There is a big issue of RTS all over the country. Therefore you all (presiding officers) are requested that if the RTS system is not working, this is not mandatory option for us. Then leave this option of RTS and POs should bring the Form 45 directly to ROs (returning officers)”. Senator Malik asked the Secretary ECP to verify this voice message whether passed by Election Commission of Pakistan or not.
Malik informed the committee that he had written a letter to the prime minister for notifying a technical experts committee as per the request of ECP to assist the committee to further probe the technical aspects of RTS. He added that this strong impression of failure of RTS needed to be fully investigated. He said that he was concerned about the fact that certificate for Result Management System (RMS) was issued by UNDP through Kaulitatem Inc., a private company and didn’t see the role of Ministry of IT while verifying a system dealing with national data. He emphasized that relationship between UNDP and Kaulitatem Inc. needed to be investigated. He revealed that a private company namely Kaulitatem Inc. was selected to get verify the RMS. He added that Kaulitetam Inc. got the certificate verified by another company namely EC- Council which was an Indian origin company with its office in Hyderabad India and one in New York, USA. He said that the UNDP and the Kaulitetam Inc. should explain as to why and how they failed to inform ECP in advance. He alleged that directors of Kaulitatem Inc. included some big names and one of them was the minister in caretaker setup.
PTI Senator Azam Swati, who is also leading in the investigations on RTS failure under the directions of his party, said that Chairman Nadra Usman Yousaf Mubin, his brother-in-law and DG (Software Development) Ahmareen Ahmed and DG (Projects) Zulfiqar Ali should be separated from the investigations for a transparent inquiry. “ECP has informed me in black and white that Form 45 were missing only in less than 50 polling stations out of 85,000 polling stations,” he said, adding, that ECP had also informed that it had received complaints from 21 polling stations from where polling agents were shunted out.
Chairman Nadra was of the view that there was no secure system in the world that could not be hacked but it could be detected from where it was hacked. “We did not provide network to ROs,” he said.
CONDEMNATION OF US MOVE TO CUT AID TO PAKISTAN
The chair condemned the recent move of the US administration to cut off the Coalition Support Fund (CFS) to Pakistan. He said CFS was actually not the aid as reported by national and international media but remuneration that Pakistan received for the logistic and other support and services it extended to the US and NATO in the war on terror. He demanded the US administration to review its decision of cutting off the CFS and other funds to Pakistan.
MYSTERIOUS DEATH OF
THREE SISTERS IN CHOLISTAN
The committee got briefing about the background of the case of three girls who were found dead in Cholistan desert but the local authorities declared their death due to natural calamity without launching any investigations. Senator Rana Maqbool Ahmed told the committee that he himself visited Bahwalnagar, Cholistan and found that then police officials of Punjab were involved in hiding and tempering the facts by pressurizing the local medical officials to destroy the facts. He said he had been stressing for the formation of joint investigation team (JIT) but Punjab Police were not cooperating till a new lady DPO of Bahwalnagar took over the charge. DPO Bahwalnagar Amara Athar informed the committee that police were neglecting the evidence prior to her and she had registered the FIR and was proceeding with the case.
Taking serious notice of the negligence, the committee recommended that Deputy Commissioner Fort Abbas Bahawalnagar, must be transferred immediately and inquiry should be initiated against him for declaring the cause of death of three girls as ‘natural death’ without any investigation and proper post-mortem.
FOOD AUTHORITY ACT
The committee members considered “Islamabad Pure Food Authority Bill 2018” introduced by Senator M Azam Khan Swati. After thorough discussion on the bill, the committee referred the bill to Ministry of Law for their input.
The State Minister for Interior Shehryar Afridi, Secretary ECP Babar Yaqob Fateh Muhammad, secretary interior, chairman Nadra and senior officials from Ministry of Law and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) attended the meeting.