ISLAMABAD: National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) while taking notice of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan’s statement, has said that it does not run a secret cell in the basement of the COMSATS building.
A Nadra spokesperson categorically rejected the PTI chief’s assertions, terming them baseless and unfounded.
Clarifying the issue, Imran said that Nadra had hired two floors of the COMSATS building in April 2011 to carry out the printing of Electoral Rolls for the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), which is still under the use of Nadra.
In a statement issued on Wednesday he said, “Nadra entered into an agreement with the ECP in 2011 for the [digitisation] and preparation of Computerised Electoral Rolls at a cost of Rs750 million, and the contract is still in continuation.”
“For this purpose Nadra hired two floors of the COMSATS building. Subsequently, Nadra sub-contracted printing work to a private company, National Institutional Facilitation Technologies (NIFT), through an open tender process.”
“NIFT installed heavy duty printers in the COMSATS building which were used to print only Electoral Rolls, including Photo Electoral Rolls, that were used in the 2013 general elections,” the PTI chief continued, adding that, “The printing facility is managed by NIFT, not by Nadra.”
“It is not a printing press, and has never been used [to print] ballot papers or other election material. The printing facility [has not been] functional since December 2013, after the local government elections of Balochistan [which were] held on December 7, 2013,” Imran said.
Nadra clarified that the Printing Press of Pakistan had been assigned the task of printing the ballot papers in their facilities in the cities of Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore by the ECP. The printing process was to take place under the supervision of the Pakistan Army, and Nadra and NIFT were not involved in the process.
Nadra spokesperson said it was carrying out its digitisation process of thumb verification in the presence of the election tribunal’s representative, as per the directives of the election tribunals.
He added that during this process, the polling bags were opened and relevant election material was scanned before before the polling bags were packed and sealed again.
The spokesperson confirmed that the COMSATS building had been used for this process, adding that after the completion of scanning the election material, it was returned to the election tribunal by the representative.
“Nadra has [been tasked with] fingerprint verification by election tribunals against 36 constituencies [countrywide], (15 National Assembly constituencies and 21 Provincial Assembly constituencies),” the spokesperson said.
“Till this date, Nadra has submitted its analysis report against 26 constituencies, exemption has been granted by competent courts in four constituencies. Work is in process against six constituencies under the “First IN, First OUT” principle,” he said.
Giving details of thumb verification, the spokesperson said that, “Nadra has returned election material against 26 constituencies to the corresponding election tribunals after submitting its report. Election material pertaining to 10 constituencies, where work is under process or stay has been granted, is in possession of Nadra.”
“In such cases, the proper taking and receiving to the level of serial numbers and counts of each material, is provided to the respective election tribunal in advance. There is no question of misappropriating sensitive election material, as its counting is carried out in the presence of a representative of the election tribunal, and then the report is reconciled at the time of returning the material to the respective election tribunal,” he added.
“Moreover, each report submitted by Nadra is subject to cross-examination by councils of the petitioner and respondents in the court of law. Nadra has successfully defended all [the reports submitted] in the respective election tribunals,” the spokesperson said.
In regard to the security of the facility, the spokesperson that Nadra had deployed security guards round the clock and a police contingent had also been deployed in the outer parameters. The records of entries and exits were also being kept since April 2011. Futhermore, CCTV cameras and scanning of bags at times of exit and entry were also being recorded.
Justice Shakirullah Jan, acting chief election commissioner, honourable members of the election commission and secretary ECP had visited the COMSATS building facility in April 2012, the spokesperson added.