The outburst by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan against National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) Tariq Malik, is nothing but the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s government’s fresh move to unnerve the daring officer who refused to budge even an inch from his position taken on the issue of thumbprint verification which is greatly hurting the image of the ruling party among public and state institutions.
A PML-N source on the condition of anonymity told Pakistan Today that the media trial of Malik by Chaudhry Nisar was a change of heart as initially the interior minister did not utter even a single word against him as he was annoyed at some PML-N leaders for meddling into his affairs.
Tariq Malik was appointed as chairman of NADRA on July 11, 2012, while he was already serving in the organisation as deputy chairman.
“During a meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif recently, Interior Minister Nisar has expressed his displeasure over what he called ‘intervention’ into affairs of the Interior Ministry by Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah and Abid Sher Ali, bypassing him and getting NADRA chief sacked unceremoniously,” the source said.
“The prime minister assured Nisar that in future, no one will be allowed to meddle into his ministry and he will be the sole decision-maker,” the source said, adding that following assurance by the prime minister, Nisar regained his confidence and was seen challenging the opposition again with full throttle,” the source added.
WHY MALIK WAS OUTED:
Sources close to Malik said that the auditor general of Pakistan (AGP) had sought some sensitive information, including complete reports on thumb verification of voters, from the NADRA chief which later became a bone of contention between the government and NADRA.
“An audit officer of the AGP had written a letter to NADRA chief on July 8, two months after the May 11 general elections, seeking details about financial and administrative matters of the authority as well as a report on the elections. This request was made irrespective of the fact that the AGP had already completed an audit. The Interior Ministry wanted an additional audit of NADRA again,” a source close to Tariq Malik said.
The source said that the auditor’s letter sought detailed report on verification of thumb-impressions of voters in the May elections, complaints received from MNAs, MPAs and the public about voter lists and reports prepared on the elections with regard to transparency and services provided by NADRA.
The source added that perhaps the government wanted to get access to NADRA’s report on the general elections through the additional audit.
However, the source added that NADRA Chairman Tariq Malik refused to provide sensitive record of elections, including thumb impression of voters, because under the directives of election tribunals, such details could not be shared with any individual, government department or even the Election Commission of Pakistan.
“The information can only be provided to election tribunals so that they can decide complaints about rigging in the light of NADRA’s report,” the source added.
“When Malik refused to provide the details, the government chose to remove Tariq Malik on the night of Dec 3 and a new NADRA chairman was appointed within hours. There was also an enquiry pending against the new NADRA chief,” the source added.
Meanwhile, the Islamabad High Court struck down the government’s decision the following day and reinstated Malik – which ignited egos for the government and a series of allegations were leveled against Malik. His appointment was termed illegal and he was accused of financial indiscipline in NADRA.
In wake of the allegations, Tariq Malik wrote a letter to the government, stating that the statutory audit of NADRA was being conducted by a chartered accountants firm, as per NADRA Ordinance (Section 27(2)), since its inception and accounts for the year 2012-13 had already been audited.
Malik said NADRA’s stance concerning additional audit by the auditor general was based on an advice by the Law Division that the AGP must spell out extent and nature of audit and notify through rules as a prerequisite to audit. He said the Public Accounts Committee had on March 7 formed a high-level committee to resolve this legal issue before commencement of audit and the case of NADRA, along with 18 other organisations, was still sub judice in the Supreme Court.
“NADRA, therefore, clarified to the Ministry Of Interior that it will be a deviation of PAC directive as well as advice of the law division if additional audit by the auditor general was to be undertaken without competition of prerequisites,” he added.
He said NADRA was fully cooperating with the audit team appointed by the auditor general and audit was in progress. The letter said the NADRA apprehended that without determining the extent and scope of audit as required under Article 170(2) of the Constitution, unlimited discretion will become available to the auditors.
“This apprehension proved true when the audit team started requisitioning sensitive record pertaining to verification of election results.”
Malik said the audit team was also requisitioning record pertaining to 2004-05 which, before the passage of 18th Amendment, was a past and closed transaction under the then provisions of law i.e. Article-169 of the Constitution, read with Section 11(2) of the Auditor General (functions, powers and terms and conditions of service) Ordinance, 2001 (XXIII of 2001).
“It is once again reiterated and assured that the NADRA is making utmost endeavors to enforce proper financial management which has made this public sector entity profitable,” Malik concluded.