The meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Interiorwas held on Thursday.Chaired by Chairman Senate, Senator A. Rehman Malik; the meeting was attended by Senator Javed Abbasi, Senator Mian Muhammad Ateeq Shaikh, SenatorMuhammad Azam Khan Swati, Senator Chaudhary Tanvir Khan, Senator Asad Ali Khan Junejoand senior officers from Ministry of Interior (MOI), National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
The meeting commenced with a Resolution moved by Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Interior Senator A. Rehman Malik condemning the threats by the Indian Army Chief, stressing that the Committee feels that it is sheer disrespect shown against Pakistan. He reads the Resolution as “The Senate Standing Committee on Interior strongly condemns the threats by Indian Army Chief, General Bipin Rawat and the undiplomatic response of India by declining Foreign Ministers’ Meeting with Pakistan in New York. The Committee feels it is sheer disrespect shown against Pakistan and it also clearly indicates the inimical & non-cooperative mindset of India to opt not to proceed with peace process but confronting policy. The Committee calls upon the international community to take notice of the membership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi being member of the RSS – a terrorist organization. The Committee also condemns the Indian brutalities in Indian held Jammu and Kashmir.”
Taking an overview of the investigations that were completed by the Committee, the Chairman Committee Senator A. Rehman Malik congratulated Chairman Senate, Speaker National Assembly and all the members of Parliament on constitution of the Parliamentary Commission to investigate irregularities in the elections.
He said that since all reports of the investigations have been submitted to the House and is part of the record; this Committee would recommend that all evidence must be submitted to the Parliamentary Commission, so that it could be used in the investigations. He said that he would also recommend that members of this Committee involved in the investigations must also be included in the Parliamentary Commission.
Chairman Committee, Senator A. Rehman Malik wholeheartedly thanked the work of the organizations involved in the investigations especially the Ministry of Interior (MOI) and NADRA.
He revealed that there were certain grey areas which have been mentioned in the report. He said that the Committee has investigated RTS and RMS systems in great detail and recommended in the report that forensic audit report received by the Committee from NADRA and ECP is further investigated through technical experts. He said that a letter had already been written to the Ministry of Interior in this regard. Senator A. Rehman Malik said the “grey areas” the committee pointed out and investigated include the delay in election results, the failure of the RTS housed in Nadra, issues related to the ECP’s Result Management System (RMS), observations of the members on the RTS and RMS, the shortage or non-provision of Form 45s, the ouster of polling agents from polling stations, the number of rejected votes, the failure of internet and telephone services in constituencies, the breakdown of the internet server at Nadra headquarters, reservations of parliamentarians such as the posting and transfer of presiding and returning officers, and the recovery of stamped ballot papers from roadsides, dustbins and elsewhere, and so on.
Discussing issues of RMS Chairman Committee, Senator A. Rehman Malik informed the Committee that detail of Kaulitatem Inc. a company based in New York in collaboration with the UNDP failed to inform ECP in advance that the testing of the security of the system would be conducted by the EC Council in India. This aspect he said has been investigated in detail. He said that in addition to the above, Form 45 at 92000 polling stations were not signed. Out of a total of 84000+ Presiding Officers 40000 did not comply ECP’s criteria. He further stated that approximately 4500 Presiding Officers did not possess mobile phones consequently they did not have access to RMS and RTS facility.
According to the Election Act 2017 all polling stations must have been monitored by CCTV cameras. There was a clear violation of this law since the ECP informed the Committee that due to unavoidable circumstances all stations could not be manned and monitored by this system.
Chairman Committee, Senator A. Rehman Malik informed the Committee that the investigations were divided into four parts that included Technical aspects, formulation of TORs, Preamble and information from political parties. He said that the first three parts have been completed; however, the fourth part still remains. He said that since the Commission has been formed, now he does not consider it ethically correct to pursue this matter anymore.
Senator Azam Khan Swati, while appreciating the input of every member of the Committee, insisted that Forensic Audit is imperative to prove transparency of these elections. He recommended that the Committee must recommend suspension of Chairman NADRA Usman Mobin, DG Projects, Zulfiqar Ali and DG Operations, Nasar Ahmed Mir immediately.
Senator Chaudhary Tanvir enquired about the action taken against the NADRA officers and said that the issue of 40668 forms must be thoroughly investigated.
Chairman Committee, Senator A. Rehman Malik said that the voice command is being investigated and a sound clip has already been sent to the ECP. The ECP informed the Committee that the sound clip has already been sent for investigation. Chairman Committee directed ECP that result for the investigations must be submitted within three days.
Senator Asad Ali Khan Junejo strongly opposed the suggestion of suspension of NADRA officers by Senator Muhammad Azam Khan Swati. He said that without proving allegations no such measures must be taken. He further stated that in order to investigate security logs there must be more than one company on the panel so that the commission can select a company from within. He said that it is extremely important to know what happened at 11:47. He said that the caretaker set-up must be answerable as well. Chairman Committee, Senator A. Rehman Malik directed that the Committee would like to know who was giving directions not to use RTS at 11:47.