PTI probe body confirms RTS failure on polling day

| Nadra official insists the system did its job well

2018-08-26T03:16:29+05:00 Imran Mukhtar

ISLAMABAD - An inquiry committee led by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Senator Azam Khan Swati held in its preliminary report that the Result Transmission System of the Election Commission of Pakistan had totally collapsed on the polling day.

The inquiry committee also recommended immediate suspension of the Nadra chairman and two other senior officers of the authority, DG (Projects) Zulfiqar Ali and DG (Software Development) Ahmareen Ahmed.

Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Muhammad appeared on TV screens on the midnight of July 25 and revealed the RTS had collapsed, causing delay in the transmission and announcement of election results. However, Nadra had been rebutting the claim of the ECP since then, saying nothing had gone wrong with the RTS, a reason that gave rise to more conspiracy theories, including the one that perhaps there was some mala fide intention behind the delay in the announcement of the election results.

The RTS is state-of-the-art software newly-developed by Nadra for smooth transmission of election results to the ECP headquarters.

After the July 25 election, the PTI had tasked Senator Swati to probe whether the RTS had actually collapsed and, if so, what the reasons of its failure were. The committee was assisted by experts, including engineers and IT professionals.

Senator Azam Khan Swati Saturday held a one-on-one meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan and presented to him the preliminary report of the committee, a statement issued by the PTI said.

The report on the RTS was presented to the PM on which the premier advised Senator Swati to get opinion of forensic experts before making the report public, the PTI statement said. It added Azam Khan Swati also requested the PM to suspend Nadra officials, including Chairman Usman Yousaf Mubeen and its two DGs, Zulfiqar Ali and Ahmareen Ahmed, maintaining that transparent inquiry was not possible in the presence of these officials.

Senator Swati told The Nation that the inquiry committee had found that RTS had failed on the Election Day to transmit results to the ECP. He said the committee had found no role of the ECP in failure of the system as the collapse belonged to Nadra which had actually developed the software.

“This is the reason that I have recommended suspension of the Nadra chairman and two senior officers of the authority,” he argued.

A senior Nadra official said Azam Khan Swati had sent a questionnaire to them regarding the RTS controversy. “We have submitted our response to Senator Swati as well as to the Senate Standing Committee on Interior which is also probing the issue,” he affirmed. He said neither the RTS had any connection with the results’ finalisation nor was it mandated by Election Act, 2017. He stated it was the Result Management System (RMS) that was mandated by law to finalise the election results. He was of the view that Nadra had also produced the computer log to inquiry committees to prove its point that RTS had not collapsed. “Our contention from the very first day is that RTS did not crash,” he reiterated.

As per the PTI statement, Senator Swati also gave a detailed briefing to Prime Minister Imran Khan regarding affairs of Ministry of Science and Technology. Swati who served as minister of science and technology during the last PPP government in the Centre also apprised the PM of the alleged large-scale corruption, violations of law, nepotism and political appointments in the ministry, the statement further said. He shared with the prime minister proofs of corruption of some bigwigs.

Senator Asam Swati told The Nation that during his stint as minister he had unearthed corruption scandals in the ministry and had found that an amount of Rs 980 million had been withdrawn illegally from 74 bank accounts of the ministry. “I had handed over some cases to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), but some officials got relief in the last PMLN government,” he said.

Separately, three senators from erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), Aurangzeb Khan, Sajjad Hussain Turri and Momin Khan Afridi, former MNA Nasir Khan and Mirza Muhammad Ayub formally announced joining the PTI.

A PTI announcement said senators Aurangzeb Khan, Sajjad Turri and Momin Khan Afridi from erstwhile Fata, now part of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa after 31st Constitutional Amendment, formally announced joining the PTI on Saturday following a meeting with Imran Khan in Islamabad.

The newcomers reposed full confidence in the party leadership and resolved to play their due role in bringing the change. The prime minister warmly welcomed all the new members to the party. Senator Haji Fida and Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak were also present in the meeting.

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