Senate panel seeks inquiry into RTS failure

Published: August 8, 2018


ISLAMABAD: Senate Standing Committee for Interior has ordered an inquiry into allegations of rigging in the July 25 vote and the failure of the Results Transmitting System (RTS).

Senator Rehman Malik said on Wednesday that a parliamentary committee will look into complaints regarding the failure of the Result Transmission System (RTS), adding that the new National Assembly speaker will constitute the committee to probe the allegations.

The panel also raised questions regarding the technical support and role of PTCL (Pakistan Telecommunication Community Limited) in the process. The Senate panel has directed the ECP and NADRA to tell under what authority the two signed agreement to manage and run the system to dispatch results to the ECP for July 25 elections. The committee members also raised questions regarding the funds given to Nadra and PTCL for implementing the RTS system.

Cholistan deaths

The standing committee also ordered formation of a joint investigation team (JIT) to probe deaths of three young girls in Cholistan desert near Fort Abbas in Punjab in June. The committee has also ordered registration of an FIR against Punjab Police officers who not only failed to investigate the case but allegedly also concealed facts of the case.

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The panel had taken suo motu notice of the girls’ mysterious deaths and sought report from the police. On the last meeting, a local doctor from Fort Abbas who had examined the three bodies briefed the committee that there were signs that all three girls were also sexually assaulted before their death.

The three girls aged six, ten and twelve had reportedly gone missing in Fort Abbas on June 13 and their bodies were recovered five days later in the nearby Cholistan desert.

Initially, it was believed the girls were caught in a sandstorm and ended up in desert where they died of dehydration and exhaustion. The local administration declared it a ‘natural calamity’ and on their recommendation Rs2.5 million were paid to the victim families by the Punjab authorities.

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However, the committee had summoned higher-ups of the Punjab Police after it was revealed by a lady doctor the victims were sexually assaulted. Committee chairperson Senator Rehman Malik questioned the narrative that sandstorm killed the girls saying how could all three girls die of exhaustion and dehydration in a storm that only lasted around one and a half hour. He feared the girls could have been murdered.

Malik said since day one, the Punjab Police was not cooperating with the committee on the issue and were reluctant to share facts. “Unfortunately Punjab police is giving covering to the criminals behind this heinous crime,” Malik remarked. Senator Azam Swati said Punjab police were abetting the culprits of such heinous crime.

The committee then ordered immediate registration of a case against police officials who failed to investigate the matter and concealed facts. The committee also ordered the formation of a high-powered JIT to be headed by an office of additional inspector general rank to probe the case. JIT will also investigate why and how local Bahawalnagar administration declared the girls’ deaths as natural.

The committee has also sought a detailed report from Gilgit-Baltistan government over burning of girls schools in Diamer and Chilas by the next meeting.

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