Islamabad, Aug. 8 (TNS): The special meeting of Senate Standing Committee on Interior was held under the Chairmanship of Senator A. Rehman Malik here at the Parliament House on Wednesday and was attended by Senator Rana Maqbool Ahmed, Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi, Senator Chaudhary Tanvir Khan, Senator Muhammad Azam Khan Swati, Senator Muhammad Asad Ali Khan Junejo, and Senator Muhammad Azam Khan Musakhel.
The meeting was also attended by Caretaker Interior Minister Mohammad Azam Khan, Secretary and additional secretary Interior and senior officials from Election Commission of Pakistan, NADRA, Police and Ministry of Law and Justice. Ms. Kashmla Tariq Federal Ombudsperson for Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplaces attended the meeting as special invitee to observe the proceedings of the committee on Cholistan incident.
Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Interior Senator A. Rehman Malik strongly condemned the suicide blast outside a polling station in Quetta on election days wherein 31 people have been martyred and more than 30 injured. The committee offered fateha for the departed souls of those who were martyred in the heartbreaking incident and expressed heartfelt condolences with the bereaved families. Senator A. Rehman Malik said that he was shocked that elections remained bloodstained both before the polling day and on the polling day. He said that enemies of Pakistan want destabilize the country by such cowardice inhumane attacks however they will not succeed in their nefarious aims and designs against our beloved country. While strongly condemning the burning down of 12 girls schools in Diamer and Chilas district of Gilgit-Baltistan, Senator A. Rehman Malik said that behind such heinous crimes are terrorists organizations like Daish. He has directed the government of Gilgit-Baltistan to submit a comprehensive report on the incident in next meeting of the committee. He said that the burning of 12 schools in Gilgit-Baltistan has once again reminded him of TTP who had been burning and destroying the schools particularly of girls. He said that such incidents are absolutely unbearable and the government must take fierce actions against those who were found involved as burning of schools in dozen is an act of terrorism.
Committee reconsidered the suo-moto notice had been taken by Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Interior on mysterious death of three girls in Cholistan Desert of Fort Abbas Bahawalnagar namely Syrraiya Bibi of 9 years old, Tahira Bibi of 8 years old and Allah Mafi of 6 years old. Senator A. Rehman Malik had rightly apprehended in the first meeting of the committee over this sad incident that as the initial report had submitted by Punjab Police to the committee didn’t mention the physical assault and the exact cause of the death of the girls so he suspects the death as murder. Later, Inspector General Punjab Police, DPO Bahwalnagar and investigation officer failed to properly investigate the unfortunate incident.
Senator A. Rehman Malik said that since day first, the Punjab Police is not cooperating with committee on the said issue and is hesitating to share the facts with the committee. He said unfortunately Punjab police is giving covering to the criminals behind this heinous crime however the committee is committed to uncover the criminals behind the crime and they must not go unpunished. He said that likewise Zainab’s case; the committee will be pursuing the case of these three sisters also to its logical conclusion. He said a lady doctor had the courage who unearth the case and informed the committee that girls were sexually assaulted before the death but the police is lacking the courage to bring the culprits to justice. The committee members expressed great annoyance over the Punjab Police and directed that case will be lodged against police officers if they didn’t proceed into the case. Senator Muhammad Azam Swati said that he promise with the nation that he will take the case to its conclusion adding that he is feeling shame of Punjab police for abetting the culprits of such heinous crime.
Senate Committee on Interior after thorough discussion, ordered to immediately register a case against the Police officials who failed in their duty in investigating the matter and concealing the facts. Committee also ordered the formation of a high powered JIT to be headed by Police Officer of Additional Inspector General rank duly supervised by Committee member Rana Maqbool Ahmed to investigate the mysterious murder of three girls. Committee ordered that the Forensic Laboratoryshould report about the defective samples and why the forensic laboratory could not respond to the higher authorities for informing about these defective samples. The Committee therefore proposed to constitute a JIT on the following TORs:-
Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Interior Senator A. Rehman Malik said that on the basis of the report submitted by Senator Rana Maqbool Ahmed who thoroughly studied the medical reports, the way the girls were found physically assaulted and subsequently killed the culprits deserve no mercy and hence they should be traced out, arrested and brought to justice. He directed that all those officers and officials who failed to perform their duties in the matter may also be identified and punished accordingly and the Secretary Interior if necessary may be invited in the meeting and the Home Secretary Punjab for a compliance report, he directed. The JIT to be headed by an honest officer of Additional IG Police rank duly supervised and guided by Senator Maqbool Ahmed has to submit its report to the committee in six weeks.
Members of the committee highly appreciated the efforts of the Chairman Committee Senator A. Rehman Malik for taking suo-moto notice of the case and highlighting the case and said that it is now their duty to deliver the justice to three innocent girls.
Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Interior Senator A. Rehman Malik highly commended and applauded the courage of lady doctor who had carried out the initial postmortem of the three girls and despite of all pressure and threats, she disclosed the facts before the committee. Committee recommended a national award for her and asked the government of Pakistan to announce an award for her for her courageous service for humanity and her honesty with her job and duties. Committee members said that they salute her for her courage and ask the government to ensure her security.
Senator A. Rehman Malik said that this committee is appointed by the Senate House to coordinate with Election Commission of Pakistan, Law Enforcemnt Agencies and Police to oversee the polling and monitor the security. He said that we are aware of the complaints raised by the different stakeholders of the elections regarding the failure of the Result Transfer System (RTS) and Results Management System (RMS). He said that a large number of official ballot papers, duly stamped on election symbols of various political parties, which have been spotted along road sides, dust bins and in some class rooms which were earlier used by the Election Staff as Polling Stations. And, these lose official ballot papers were also found outside the Polling Stations in other cities of the country as well. He said that the committee has desired to investigate all the concerned complaints received from different quarters and to submit a comprehensive report to the Senate.
Chairman Committee Senator A. Rehman Malik said that he had written a letter to the election commission of Pakistan on the very next day of election i.e. 26th July to know about the failure of RTS and RMS. He said that he was informed by the Election Commission of Pakistan that they have written a letter to Cabinet Division for appointing an investigative team of technical experts to investigate the complaints and to fix the responsibility.
Members of the committee appreciated Chairman Committee Senator A. Rehman Malik for immediately raising the issue of complaints by parliamentarians to the Election Commission of Pakistan with addition of some demands.
Senator Muhammad Azam Khan Swati said that this is timely action and it is good for the democratic process as he believes in fair, free and transparent elections and the responsibility of failure of RTS and RMS must be fixed. Senator Chaudry Tanvir khan asked about the price of verification of the votes from NADRA as he said millions of votes are being rejected in some constituencies saying if recounting and rechecking of rejected vote is made, he is sure the winning candidates will be others rather those who are declared winners now.
Chairman Committee Senator A. Rehman Malik call for explanation from NADRA chairman absence from the meeting and said as NADRA fail to give the exact cast of the verifying the thumb print per vote so it is directed that the cast of the per vote verification will be Rs 10 rupees. He also inquired from DG NADRA about the statements published in media in which NADRA had stated that RTS was working perfectly on the elections day but DG NADRA denied that no such statement was issued by the NADRA and they had issued rebuttal of the news. Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Interior Senator A. Rehman Malik directed NADRA to provide the press clippings and press statement in which the earlier news was denied. DG IT ECP also briefed the committee about the Result Management System (RTS) and Result Management System (RMS) and said that RMS was monitored and operated by the Election Commission of Pakistan but RTS was solely operated and monitored by the NADRA and Election Commission of Pakistan was absolutely relying on the NADRA. Members of the committee expressed grave concerns to know that Election Commission of Pakistan had handed over the system to NADRA being another institution.
Senator A. Rehman Malik asked DG IT ECP as any agreement signed between the NADRA and Election Commission of Pakistan and who was technically monitoring the systems, how powers are delegated to NADRA and what technology was used to transfer the data either pulse, digital or internet system was used? DG IT Election Commission of Pakistan said that private company PTCL was hired to which Chairman Committee Senator A. Rehman Malik asked to provide answers to multiple questions to the committee before August 20, 2018.
The members of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior agreed to call another meeting of the committee on August 20th, 2018 whether to constitute the Judicial Commission or the Parliamentary Committee to investigate into the complaints and irregulartities during the elections including failure of RMS & RTS systems, ouster of polling agents, unavailability of form-45 and throwing of stamped ballot papers in dust bins and also found in classrooms, roads and other places.
Care taker Interior Minister Azam Khan while highly appreciating the committee and chairman said that he is thankful to Parliament and this committee for providing the guidance as he has learned many things from Senate Standing Committee On Interior. He said that his ministry succeeded to conduct peaceful elections generally across the country as security was his and his ministry duty.