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Monday, April 15, 2024  
06 Shawwal 1445  

PTA allays fears of internet outage as ECP explains its contingency plans

Internet services will be available to users on February 8
AFP/File
AFP/File

The caretaker government would not suspend the internet services on Election Day, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority said on Wednesday.

“The internet service will be available to users on Election Day,” the PTA said in a statement.

The clarification comes after the Amnesty International, along with several other human rights organisations, called on Pakistani authorities to guarantee uninterrupted access to the internet and digital communication platforms for everyone across the country during the general elections.

Caretaker Interior Minister Gohar Ejaz hinted at suspending the internet service on Election Day amid incidents of violence in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

In response to a query, he stated that such a decision would only be taken after a request from any district or province.

While refuting that the internet would be suspended, the PTA said: “The internet service will be provided without any interruption.”

ECP using private network for results: IT DG

A private network was being used for election results, Khizar Aziz, the Election Commission of Pakistan information technology director general, told Geo News during its election transmission.

“We want to assure the nation that the Election Management System is special software,” he said.

Last week, two returning officers pointed out faults in the EMS. Abdul Qadir Mashori, the Qambar assistant commissioner (AC), and RO for National Assembly seat NA-197 (Qambar-Shahdadkot-II), and Usman Khaskheli, the Bakrani AC and RO for PS-12 (Larkana-III) seat of Sindh Assembly, wrote letters to their superiors, conveying issues regarding the system.

The director general stated that the result transmission system (RTS) was not being used in the elections 2024.

He went on to add that the EMS has been distributed to as many as 859 returning officers.

He added that four data entry operators, four laptops, and IT equipment were being distributed to each RO office.

The director general said that the EMS has also been installed in the mobile phones of presiding officers. They can also send the picture of Form 45 through their mobile phones to returning officers, he added.

Aziz stated that the presiding officer has to go to the RO under Section 95 of the Election Act. The presiding officer can also show the Form 45 to the returning officer on his mobile. The form would automatically be locked in his mobile.

He explained that the RO can confirm whether Form 45 has been locked on the presiding officer’s phone or not while making Form 47.

Computers fitted in the rooms of RO for the National Assembly and the provincial assembly would be working in three modes for data entry, Aziz said. “If the data entry connectivity goes down, then the software mode will start working. Apart from the online and offline tool, a third tool is also available [for the service],” he said.

Aziz claimed that the result management system (RMS) performed well last time. “This [EMS] is its improvised version,” he said and added that it was connected to the GPS.

“We are not using any internet or public net. A private network is being used for results. The ECP has its digital infrastructure which has been connected with fiber optics,” he said and stated that satellite is being used where fiber optic was not available.

ECP Special Secretary Zafar Iqbal said that the presiding officer would also paste the result sheet outside the polling station.

He stated that all polling agents at the polling station would sign Form 45, saying that it was necessary for transparency in elections.

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