25th July was the most important day of the year for Pakistanis as yet another government was to be elected through General Elections 2018 but alas, it has turned into yet another cautionary tale about how we are seemingly allergic to the modern technology.
Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) introduced Results Transmission System (RTS) to transmit results of General Elections 2018 from presiding officers to returning officers and to the Election Commission Pakistan in real-time but actually failed.
It all started when there was an outcry over the delay in the election results and the Babar Yaqoob, the ECP secretary informed the reporters that a technical issue has rendered the system useless. He said, “The delay in announcing the official results is due to a technical issue with the Results Transmission System (RTS).”
“We were supposed to get 85,000 forms through the RTS but only 25,000 managed to come through,” he further revealed. Apparently, it stopped working when thousands of polling officers began using it, which to be honest was the actual reason for the system’s existence.
RTS is run through a software powered by NADRA
The authority was sent separate letters by the returning officers from Faisalabad, Okara and other cities just a day before polling about the possible failure of the system. How can we expect the system that gave up during the registration process of presiding officers to work effectively in delivering the results of General Elections 2018 smoothly?
Just because NADRA provided technical assistance in the development of mobile-based result transmission system does not exonerate ECP from the blame.
Reportedly, the system was successfully tested through pilot projects conducted in NA-4, Peshawar, and PS-114, Karachi by-election last year but it was not apparently prepared to take the heavy load of the nation’s decision.
In a country that has been plagued with election rigging, the failure of RTS pushes us back several years which has led all the major parties (except PTI this time) to question the transparency of the General Elections 2018 and ECP will soon have to address these issues and prove against any wrongdoing to keep the political stability in the country.