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Saturday, December 7, 2013

Govt defends sacking of NADRA chairman

National Assembly: Govt defends sacking of NADRA chairman

The federal government challenged the reinstatement of NADRA Chairman Tariq Malik in the Supreme Court.
ISLAMABAD:  The government put cold waters on opposition’s seemingly charged plan of slamming the government over dismissal of NADRA chairman through a few disclosures.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pakistan Peoples Party had teamed up against the government over sacking of NADRA Chairman Tariq Malik — who was immediately reinstated by Islamabad High Court — as they built up their case that the move was aimed at concealing rigging in general elections through verification of voters’ thumb impression.
The opposition, perhaps, had not done its homework to make its case stronger but Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan was waiting for the opportunity to hit hard at both the opposition groups separately. Though Nisar responded to the questions raised by the opposition, he did not answer one question: Why the government sacked NADRA Chairman in the middle of night?
Responding to opposition’s allegations, he said that the matter was sub judice as the government has challenged IHC decision in the Supreme Court and he was sharing details of the case out of compulsion to put the record straight.

He assured the house that the government will implement court’s decision on the case, whatever it is, contrary to the practice of past regime.  Nisar started with appointment procedure of Malik and said he was taken as General Manager of NADRA, without following the due process. Later on he was taken as Deputy Chairman, a post which does not exist as per rules and then was promoted to the office of Chairman.
“The previous government appointed Malik as chairman through relaxation of rules,” Nisar said and added “I can produce documentary evidence before this house.” The minister revealed that the incumbent Chairman had been denying, despite two letters, to present the accounts of NADRA for audit.
In addition, he said, the chairman had been ‘leaking’ news to the media without prior approval of his ministry. “I had told the Chairman in the middle of a meeting, and in front of everyone present, that I will sack you if NADRA accounts are not audited,” he added.
In response to PTI’s questions, Nisar said that “the government was ready to go for thumb impression verification of all 272 seats (directly elected) of the National Assembly under the supervision of PTI’s member Justice (retd) Wajihuddin Ahmed.”
“I can tell you the results right now that thousands of votes would not be verified as magnetic ink was not used.” It is either the Election Commission of Pakistan or the caretaker government responsible for not using the specific ink, he added.
He said that NADRA chairman had nothing to do with the verification of the votes as election tribunals or courts would order that.
Earlier, PTI chairman Imran Khan said the government removed the NADRA chairman to disrupt the process of thumb impression verification. The chairman was under pressure for quite some time and was removed at the end, he added.
Leader of the Opposition Syed Khursheed Shah said he was concerned because there were allegations of rigging in general elections and NADRA chairman’s removal at this juncture gave credence to that.
Shah Mehmood Qureshi of the PTI questioned the government as to why it had removed the chairman in the middle of the night and as to why due process had not been followed in the action.
After Nisar’s reply, both the PTI and the PPP were taken aback as they said they have nothing to do with the administrative issues related to the case. But both were sticking to their views regarding allegation of rigging in elections.
Govt moves SC
The federal government challenged the reinstatement of NADRA Chairman Tariq Malik in the Supreme Court. In its petition, the federal government through its counsel Akram Sheikh stated that NADRA Chairman holds dual nationality of Pakistan as well as Canada.
“It is humbly submitted that NADRA database contains, critical, confidential and highly sensitive information pertaining to the citizens of Pakistan which information if placed in the hands of a person whose allegiance is not solely to Pakistan is potentially in the possession of a foreign national and hence may be available to any foreign entity,” the government pleaded in its petition also made available with The Express Tribune.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 6th, 2013.