Four directors general of Nadra held a press conference on Tuesday and denied that voters’ data had been leaked. The press conference was not attended by Nadra Chairman Usman Yousuf Mobin.
The Nadra officials said the media had run “baseless” news that the authority’s data had been shared with it. They said that an email shown in the media about the data leakage was more than one year old when the process for preparation of voters’ lists had not been started.
Accuses media of running baseless news about leak
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had on Monday written to Nadra a letter seeking explanation as to why a newspaper published details of electoral lists on May 25 and 28.
Terming the leakage allegations baseless, the Nadra officials claimed that there had never been a data security breach in the authority’s history.
Nadra Director General (production) Zulfiqar Ali said: “Neither was there any leak nor have we shared any citizen’s data with anyone, especially the media.” He said a senior Nadra official, Muzaffar Ali Shah, had been removed on corruption charges and now he was levelling baseless allegations against the authority.
Mr Ali also claimed that the ECP had clarified that it had not mentioned any security breach in its letter to Nadra.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan has filed in the ECP a petition seeking removal of the Nadra chairman over the alleged leak and “having contacts with a political party”.
The PTI chairman accused the Nadra chief of trying to influence the elections by sharing voters’ details with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
The ECP had directed the Nadra chairman to conduct an inquiry against those responsible for the data leak.
On the other hand, Nadra claimed that it had not shared “sensitive information” with anyone. It dismissed the allegation of providing sensitive information to the PML-N ahead of the general elections.
Mr Ali also rejected the allegations that the Nadra chairman had recently met Maryam Nawaz, daughter of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. “The allegations of corruption are fabricated and baseless as the authority has a limited role in conducting elections,” he said. “Nadra only provides technical assistance to the ECP in accordance with the law and the Constitution.”
The PTI petition alleged that the Nadra chairman had been appointed by the PML-N government and he had provided the data to the party to help it win the upcoming general elections.
Mr Mobin was reappointed Nadra chairman in February for the next three years. “He was one of the most competent officers and deserves the post,” the DG production said.
Internet voting system
The Nadra officials claimed that the authority had recently given a detailed briefing to the Supreme Court on the arrangements made for the voting of overseas Pakistani and the internet voting system.
“The Supreme Court appreciated the arrangements made by Nadra for internet voting of overseas Pakistanis, but there were misleading reports in the media that the apex court was misguided by the authority,” they said.
During the last PML-N government, the opposition had demanded that overseas Pakistanis be given the right to franchise. Consequently, Nadra devised a plan as to how overseas Pakistanis could cast their votes in the 2018 elections. However, the government, the opposition and the ECP could not reach consensus on the issue.
“We have also informed the Supreme Court about the expenditure required for the arrangements for e-voting,” the Nadra officials said.
Published in Dawn, June 20th, 2018