The meeting of Senate Standing Committee on Interior was held under the Chairmanship of Senator A. Rehman Malik here at the Parliament House on Monday and was attended by Senator Rana Maqbool Ahmed, Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi, Senator Asad Ali Khan Junejo, Senator Kauda Babar, Senator Mohammad Azam Khan Swati, Senator Haji Momin Khan, Senator Chaudhary Tanvir Khan, Senator Sardar Muhammad Shafiq Tareen and Senator Muhammad Ateeq Shaikh as members and Senator Mushtaq Ahmed, Senator Dr. Sikandar Mandhro, Senator Mir Kabeer Ahmed Muhammad Shahi, Senator Muhammad Usman Khan Kakar and Senator Sitara Ayaz as special invitees and observers. The Minister for Interior, Shehryar Afridi, Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan Babar Yaqob Fateh Muhammad, Secretary Interior, Chairman NADRA and senior officials from Ministry of Law and PTA attended and briefed the meeting. DPO Bahawalnagar Athar and officials of Punjab police were also present in the meeting regarding the mysterious death of three sisters in desert of Cholistan.
The meeting commenced with Chairman Committee, Senator A. Rehman Malik lauding the new Minister for Interior, Shehryar Khan Afridi on assuming office and assured him of the Committee’s complete support in national interest of the people of Pakistan. He said that this Committee represents the Senate and people of Pakistan and members have always remained cooperative above their respective political affiliations.
CONDEMNED US MOVE OF CUTTING OFF AID TO PAKISTAN
Chairman Senate Standing Committee Senator A. Rehman Malik strongly condemned the recent move of the US President Donald Trump administration to cut off the Coalition Support Fund (CFS) to Pakistan. He said CFS is 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 said that Pakistan is paying a heavy price in terms of life and property in fight against terrorism since more than a decade. He said that international community must recognize Pakistan's efforts and come forward for treating and helping Pakistan as a victim rather to victimize it for hostile country India illicit propaganda. He demanded the US administration to review its decision of cutting off the CFS and other funds to Pakistan. Senator A. Rehman Malik said that unfortunately USA is playing in the hands of India while as matter of fact the Indian Prime Narendra Modi is himself a terrorist being the member of terrorist outfit - RSS which is a banned organization and responsible for the killings of Muslims in Kashmir and other parts of India.
MYSTERIOUS DEATH OF THREE SISTERS IN CHOLISTAN
Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Interior Senator A. Rehman Malik briefed the Committee about the background of the case of three girls who were found dead in Cholistan desert. He said that he was hurt of the news so had taken the suo-moto notice of the case and after listening the police officials in first meeting he had ordered formation of a sub-committee headed by the Senator Rana Maqbool Ahmad who proceeded with the probe. Senator Rana Maqbool Ahmed told the Committee that he himself visited Bahwalnagar, Cholistan and found that police officials of Punjab were involved in concealing and tampering facts by pressurizing local medicals officials to destroy the facts. He said that he has been stressing for the formation of Joint Investigation team (JIT) but Punjab Police was not cooperating till a new lady DPO of Bahwalnagar took charge. DPO Bahwalnagar Amara Athar informed the committee that police was neglecting the evidence prior to her taking over and she has registered the FIR and is preceding the case.
Taking serious notice of the negligence, Committee recommended that Deputy Commissioner Fort Abbas Bahawalnagar, must be transferred immediately and inquiry to be initiated against him for declaring the cause of death of three girls as ‘natural death’ without any investigation and proper postpartum. Chairman Committee directed the Ministry of Interior to thoroughly supervise the investigations and ensure that the criminals are taken to task. Minister of State on Interior Sheheryar Khan Afirdi said that he was hurt to know about this heartbreaking tragedy and assures the committee that he will be supervising the investigation.
FOOD AUTHORITY ACT FOR ISLAMABAD.
Senate Standing Committee on Interior considered “Islamabad Pure Food Authority Bill 2018” introduced by Senator M. Azam Khan Swat. Chairman Senator A. Rehman Malik appreciated the efforts of the Senator Azam Swati for taking the initiative to introduce the separate food act for Islamabad. After thorough discussion on the Bill, the Committee referred the Bill to Ministry of Law for their input.
COMPLAINTS AND RESERVATIONS REGARDING ELECTIONS-2018
While taking on serious note the complaints and reservation expressed by media, general public and vaious political parties, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Interior Senator A. Rehman Malik said that committee held multiple meetings both formal and informal on the subject and have come to conclusion that a forensic audit duly supervised by Parliamenatry Committee is necessary to probe into the allegations, complaints and failure of RTS. He said that he and Senate Standing Committee on Interior highly appreciate the Pakistan Army, Police and other Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) for ensuring the security of voters, candidates, polling staff and vicinities on the poling day.
Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Interior who is Senate nominated Coordinator to oversee the Elections-2018; Senator A. Rehman Malik said that his committee was nominated by the Senate of Pakistan to oversee the conduction of the free, fair and transparent elections and its security. He said that the Committee has already submitted two reports in the House for the information of the House and Senators and soon he will be submitting the third report. He said that we were fully aware of the complaints and reservations regarding the failure of the Result Transmission System (RTS) and doing the technical investigations from NADRA and ECP. He said that the following complaints and grey areas are being investigated by the Committee:
· Delay in election results
· Failure of RTS housed in NADRA
· Issues related to 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, constituency-wise
· Failure of internet services/telephone services in the constituencies
· Breakdown of Internet Server at NADRA’s Headquarters. Did the server of NADRA slow down during the operation?
· Reservations by the Members of Senate in the House e.g. posting and transfer of Presiding Officers and Returning Officers – complaints made by Senators from Balochistan
· Recovery of Stamped Ballot Papers on roadside, dustbins or elsewhere
· Violation, if any, in awarding contract by NADRA or ECP in violation of PPRA rules
· Further forensic audit of RTS by an independent private credible company
· Detecting of any other violation of security code for both RTS and RMS
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 A. Rehman Malik said that the members of Senate Standing Committee on Interior and its staff are working day and night to reach a conclusion. He said that there have been number of controversial observations raised by media and various political parties on RTS which need to be thoroughly investigated through forensic audit by a credible organization duly supervised by parliamentary commission.
Senator A. Rehman Malik from his own mobile played a voice message having been received through a whatsapp message which referred to the Election Commission of Pakistan for its verification that if the said as per the voice message orders were issued through electronic message by ECP or in writing has been claimed in this voice message. 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”. Senator A. Rehman Malik asked the Secretary ECP to verify this voice message whether passed by Election Commission of Pakistan or not.
Senator A. Rehman Malik informed the Committee that he has written a letter to the Prime Minister in his capacity as Interior 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 needs to be fully investigated in the light of observations made by the various honorable members inside the House of Senate and Interior Committee. 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 don’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. needs to be investigated. He said that a private company namely Kaulitatem Inc. was selected to verify the RMS. He added that Kaulitetam Inc. got the certificate verified by another company namely EC- Council which is an Indian origin company with its office in Hyderabad India and one in New York USA. He said that sadly the Kaulitatem Inc. didn’t declare in advance that Pakistan sensitive data would be verified by a company having India origin. He said that the UNDP and the Kaulitetam Inc. must explain as to why and how they failed to inform Election Commission of Pakistan in advance. He questioned how an Indian origin private company was hired to pass security clearance of a national level sensitive system by UNDP.
Senator A. Rehman Malik said that directors of kaulitatem Inc. are big name and one of them was the Minister in caretaker setup.
Senate Standing Committee on Interior decided to include the issue of verification of Result Management System (RMS) as TOR for further investigation.