ISLAMABAD - The 220 million populace of the country may not be able to know about their fate till the midday of July 26 as to who will rule them for the next five years after the elections due to the deficit in infrastructure support introduced by the election Commission of Pakistan for landing of polling station-wise results in its master control room to announce the results on the same day.
In order to enhance transparency and speedy compilation of elections results, the ECP for the first time in the country’s history is also using Android-based mobile application called Results Transmission System (RTS) with its previous method.
Although the commission had claimed to successfully test the RTS (a costly system) through pilot projects, yet the unavailability of android mobile sets with all the presiding officers and cellular connectivity in the country may not fully support the idea to quickly announce result on a same day.
A number of government officials, mainly from far-flung remote areas of the country, including Balochistan, who are assigned the duty of presiding officer in different constituencies are not having the smartphones to materialise this new system.
Some of them, desiring not to be named, have also expressed their concerns on social media as unavailability of smartphones had damaged their self-respect during training.
The commission is in a process of imparting training to government officials with technical assistance by the NADRA.
Political experts viewed that the idea of introducing this new system will be helpful for transparency of the results. “Although it will help for transparent results of polls, yet it also needs its full implementation,” they viewed.
When contacted, ECP Spokesman Nadeem Qasim said that the ECP was fully committed to holding general elections on time and in free, fair and transparent manner.
“For the first time, the Android-based mobile application called Results Transmission System being used in general elections after successfully testing pilot projects,” he said, mentioning it was not imposed on presiding officers to arrange smartphones. “It is not prerequisite for presiding officials to have smartphones for this new app,” he said.
About unavailability of signals in remote areas, he said the GPRS connectivity (3G, 4G) is available except a few remote locations where mobile data networks are not available. In the far-flung remote area, he said, the POs can find mobile data signals by travelling some few kilometres away from the polling stations. “This new mobile application-based system would definitely enhance efficiency,” he said, mentioning that it helps discouraging unofficial results announcements by electronic media. The commission, he said, has also decided to give an additional Rs1,000 each to all such POs who will assist in transferring the election results to ECP through the RTS.
Whereas, former secretary of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Kanwar Muhammad Dilshad said that this system might not work in seventy per cent remote areas of the country. “How it could work in interior Sindh, remote areas of Balochistan and Southern Punjab where cellular connectivity is rare,” he said while talking to The Nation.
According to Section 13 of the Election Act, 2017, “The presiding officer shall immediately take snapshot of the result of count and, as soon as connectivity is available and it is practicable, electronically send it to the commission and returning officer before sending the original document under Section 90."
“The commission shall establish a transparent results management system for expeditious counting, tabulation, compilation, transmission, dissemination and publication of results in the official gazette and on the commission’s website,” it added.
It further says: “The returning officer shall electronically send to the commission (a) scanned copy of the provisional results compiled under sub-section (3); and (b) scanned copies of the consolidated statement of the results of the count, final consolidated result together with results of the count and the ballot paper accounts, as received by him from the presiding officers under Sub-section (18) of Section 90”.