The Results Transmission System (RTS) failed on the Election Day. What is the guarantee that the e-voting system introduced for overseas Pakistanis won’t meet the same fate in upcoming by-polls, asked Senator Raza Rabbani on Monday. Speaking at the Senate session, the veteran Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) lawmaker in the Upper House opposed the plan to use the e-voting software, fearing that it could be used to rig future elections. He said if the e-Voting system got hacked, it would affect the entire electoral process. Rabbani also raised the issue of overseas Pakistanis in Middle Eastern states who were not familiar with the use of Internet, asking how would they cast their ballots through the e-Voting system. He said the PPP was not opposed to extension of franchise to overseas Pakistanis, but it was not in favour of the current voting procedure. The lawmaker maintained that preparations seemed to be underway to rig the next general elections. During the session on Monday, lawmakers in the Upper House continued debate on the July 25 elections, demanding the formation of a parliamentary commission to probe rigging allegations. The debate started when the Senate took up an adjournment motion, moved by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz lawmaker Javed Abbasi. He demanded formation of a parliamentary commission to investigate rigging allegations. Abbasi said the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had failed miserably to hold a free, fair and transparent election. “There were no signatures [of polling agents] on Form-45 in 117 constituencies, while the margin between rejected votes and winning number was very thin in 49 constituencies,” he said, adding that the ECP failed to live up to its claims about the efficiency of the Results Transmission and Management Systems (RTS and RMS). Senator Hasil Bizenjo said the mainstream media were used to do pre-poll rigging, adding that media coverage of some political parties portrayed them in a bad light. He seconded Abbasi’s demand and sought the formation of a parliamentary committee for the purpose. The Senate deputy chairman, who chaired the session, said that the Parliament had made the Election Act, and it could review it as well if needed. Senator Sardar Azam Khan Musakhel continued the debate, noting that democracy cannot be strengthened as long as free and fair elections were not ensured in the country. Senator Ghaus Niazi raised highlighted that there were complaints about shortage of Form-45 at various polling stations. Senator Asad Ali Khan Junejo said that the failure of the RTS and RMS had left a huge question mark on the performance of the National Database and Regulatory Authority (Nadra), ECP as well as internet service providers (ISPs). He also joined other lawmakers in seeking a parliamentary probe into rigging allegations. Senator Tahir Bizinjo maintained that ‘controversial’ elections had led to political uncertainty in the country. PTI lawmaker Faisal Javed recalled that in the general election of 2013, 21 parties had complained about rigging, and that his party sought a probe in only four constituencies but the demand was not met. Another PTI lawmaker Azam Swati said a forensic audit should be conducted to ascertain the causes of the RTS failure. Only then can a decision be made about the nature of rigging in the election. He said that all members of the ECP were appointed jointly by PML-N and PPP, adding that the PTI was not taken into confidence on those decisions. Chaudhry Sarwar said both PPP and PML-N were complaining about rigging only in those constituencies where they lost the election. Published in Daily Times, September 4th 2018.