ISLAMABAD: Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry has claimed that the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) would not face any difficulty in getting its candidate, Dr Arif Alvi, elected as Pakistan’s next president in the upcoming presidential polls scheduled for September 4 as it had garnered the required support.
“The PTI enjoys support of all of its allied parties, including the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) and the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) besides other smaller allies,” he said on Saturday.
Chaudhry was speaking to media after a meeting of the PTI senior leadership held at Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Bani Gala residence. The meeting was called to discuss issues related to presidential election and by-election at 37 national and provincial assemblies’ constituencies.
On Saturday, three senators from former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) also formally announced to join the PTI after their meeting with Imran. These senators are Aurangzeb Khan, Sajjad Turi, and Momin Khan Afridi.
“The newcomers expressed full confidence in party’s leadership and manifesto and resolved to play their due role in bringing change. The PM warmly welcomed all new members into the party. Senator Haji Fida and Defence Minister Pervez Khattak were also present in the meeting,” said a statement.
Removal of NADRA officials
Meanwhile, an inquiry committee has recommended PM Imran to immediately remove a few senior officials of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), including its chief Usman Yousuf Mobeen over failure of NADRA-made Results Transmission System (RTS) on the election day.
The committee, headed by the PTI Senator Azam Khan Swati, was mandated to probe into collapse of a mobile phone app – the RTS – designed and operated by NADRA and meant to transmit 2018 general election results electronically.
In its preliminary report, the committee concluded that NADRA chairman, DG Projects Zulfiqar Ali, and DG Software Development Ahmareen Ahmed, who happens to be a close relative of Chairman Mobeen, should be removed from their positions immediately as their “criminal negligence” created “unnecessary doubts” over free and fair election.
Through RTS, the presiding officers were supposed to transmit results to returning officers and to the Election Commission Pakistan (ECP) in real-time. However, the system collapsed, as acknowledged later by the ECP also, on the night of election when the process of compilation of final results was in progress.
NADRA had rebutted the ECP’s claim saying nothing went wrong with the RTS which, it said, slowed down given the sudden influx of results. After the July 25 election, the PTI had tasked Senator Swati to probe whether RTS actually collapsed.
The committee was assisted by experts including engineers and IT professionals.
According to a news statement issued by the PTI Central Media Department, Senator Azam Khan Swati on Saturday held one-on-one meeting with PM Imran and presented before him the preliminary report of the committee.
The premier advised Swati to get the opinion of forensic experts before making the report public, the PTI statement said. It said Swati also requested the PM to suspend NADRA officials, including its chairman, and two of its director generals, maintaining that a transparent inquiry was not possible in their presence.
Senator Swati told The Express Tribune that the Federal Investigation Agency’s Cyber Crime Wing and other related government departments would now conduct a complete forensic audit and report back to the committee to finalise its findings.
NADRA is of the opinion that the ECP had administrative control of the RTS to handle operation, including user management, candidates’ addition, and deletion and editing, constituencies and polling scheme management and device registration while NADRA was providing technical hosting services for backend system. It claimed that the RTS was never stopped and worked properly on the election day.