ISLAMABAD - Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Interior Rehman Malik on Sunday wrote a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan, urging him to order constitution of a Technical Committee
to investigate failure of Result Transmission System (RTS) during the recently-held general elections.
Malik, Senate’s nominated coordinator to monitor and oversee the general elections, wrote the letter as Imran Khan is also the Interior Minister of Pakistan.
Malik said that as the Interior Minister, Imran Khan was ex-officio member of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior, hence it was mandatory for Imran Khan to fully assist and attend the Committee.
Expressing his displeasure, Senator Malik wrote that in response to the Senate Committee’s letter about the RTS failure on July 26, the Election Commission of Pakistan had directed Cabinet Division on August 2 to constitute a Committee consisting of technical experts from National Telecommunication and Information Technology Security Board and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority but the notification of the mentioned Technical Committee had not yet been issued despite laps of three weeks.
Congratulating Imran Khan on becoming the Prime Minister, Senator Malik wrote, “I and on behalf of the members of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior, would like to congratulate you on assuming the charge of the office of Prime Minister of Pakistan and the Minister of Interior.”
In his letter, Malik said: “I would like to inform you that the Senate Standing Committee on Interior and the Upper House Coordinating Committee was empowered by the House for monitoring the free, fair and transparent conduct of the elections 2018. I would also like to inform you that the Committee had written a letter to the ECP for investigation into failure of RTS. The ECP, in response to the advice of this Committee, wrote to the Cabinet Division for constitution and notification of a Technical Committee to probe the alleged failure of the RTS on the Elections Day, July 25”.
Highlighting the importance of a Technical Committee, Senator Malik emphasised, “The report of this Technical Committee is required to enable the Committee to complete the probe based on technical and other evaluation of the RTS as there are numerous complaints received regarding failure of the system, which needs to be examined in the greater public interest”.
Senator Malik wrote that the matter was referred to Cabinet Division on August 2 by the ECP, asking to constitute a Committee consisting of technical experts from NTISB and PTA but the notification of the said technical committee had not yet been issued by the Cabinet Division despite laps of three weeks. Urging intervention of the Prime Minister, Senator Malik wrote, “I call upon you as the Interior Minister to kindly intervene to have the said Committee notified at the earliest”.
Elaborating the work so far done by the Senate body, Senator Malik said that the Senate Committee on Interior and Upper House Coordinating Committee were progressing well and second volume of the investigation report was being laid in the House on August 27 (today).
He added that the Senate body and Upper House Coordinating Committee were probing into various complaints received from political parties, media and general public and had shown their concerns over alleged failure of the RTS designed and controlled by the National Database and Registration Authority.
Senator Malik concluded his letter with the demand, “I would like to request that the Cabinet or Interior Division may kindly be directed to notify constitution of the proposed technical committee to investigate failure of the RTS without further loss of time”.
Meanwhile, the Law and Justice Ministry in a reply to the government said that the government was empowered under Section 3 of Pakistan Commission of Inquiry Act 2017 to constitute a Commission of inquiry on matters of public importance. The ECP, it said, had asked holding of inquiry into the RTS. “RTS is not itself recognised as a separate function of the ECP under the Election Act 2017,” it said.
However, Section 13 of the Elections Act 2017 provides that the ECP shall establish Results Management System or RMS for expeditious counting.
“A Presiding Officer is required to take snapshot of the result of a count and as soon as connectivity is available and is practicable, electronically send it to the ECP and Returning Officer. The Returning Officer has to compile provisional results and on or before 2am of the next day of election, electronically communicate the same to the ECP. In case of failure, the Returning Officer shall communicate the reason for such failure and also communicate the provisional results soon after compilation.”
The TORs for the Inquiry Commission, it said, include making recommendations for the future
course of action. “This means that Inquiry Commission is also to give recommendations for the course of conduct or action for future elections.”
The Ministry added: “It is the Federal government and not the Cabinet Division which can constitute an Inquiry Commission under the Pakistan Commissions of Inquiry Act 2017. Hence, once the revised TORs are received from the ECP, the matter should be put up before the Cabinet”, the Ministry advised.