ISLAMABAD: The process for the appointment of head of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) is about to conclude with the meeting of the policy board scheduled for January 9.

In the meeting three names will be finalised and sent to the prime minister for final selection.

Meanwhile, criticism is being levied against the process by which selections have been made.

There are allegations that some candidates are not well-reputed and one of those included in the list was not even shortlisted by the firm Ferguson, which received the applications and shortlisted candidates on the basis of their credentials.

The federal secretary for ministry of health, Ayub Sheikh, refuted the allegations and claimed that the selection process was entirely transparent and no one can challenge it.

Three of the shortlisted candidates have corruption allegations against them, one name was not part of original list

Drap was established under the DRAP Act 2012 to provide effective coordination and enforcement of the Drugs Act 1976 to manage inter-provincial trade and commerce of drugs.

An official of Ministry of National Health Services, requesting not to be identified, said the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan Act 2012 was passed by the parliament and on November 12, 2012 it became law when the president signed it.

“The Act clearly states that an acting chief executive officer (CEO) cannot hold office for over three months but first acting CEO Arshad Farooq Faheem worked for four months and Mohammad Arshad Khan has been working as acting CEO for almost two years,” he said.

The official pointed out that Section 5(1-a) and 5(6) of Act state that the CEO must at least have a postgraduate degree in Pharmacy or Medicine and at least 20 years experience in the relevant field. Moreover, first priority must be given to a public sector employee and then private sector employees.

During the last two years the post of CEO was advertised three times but a permanent head of the authority could not be appointed.

He said the current government decided to appoint the permanent head and a chartered accountancy firm, Ferguson, was hired to carry out the process.

The firm shortlisted as many as five candidates — Dr Tanveer Alam, currently the deputy director general DRAP Karachi, Dr Sheikh Akhtar Hussain, currently the deputy director general DRAP Lahore and Khalid Khan a drug analyst for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Two shortlisted candidates from the private sector were Dr Ahson Siddiqui and Aslam Afghani, the official said.

“Later, another candidate, Dr Abdul Rasheed, who is the director-general DRAP, Islamabad, said he applied for the post but his application was missing so he was also included in the list of shortlisted candidates,” he said.

Another official of the ministry, requesting anonymity, said Dr Tanveer spent four years in jail from 2001 to 2004. He was granted bail on June 25, 2004 but he remained suspended from duty for eight years till 2008.

He was terminated from service but then the court decided in his favour and so he was reinstated.

He said Dr Akhtar faced an inquiry by the National Accountability Bureau in a corruption case because for the construction of a commercial building in Liberty Market Lahore.

“Mr Khalid Khan is also accused of corruption and he was reportedly demoted from Director Drug Testing Laboratory (DTL) to an analyst. Dr Rasheed is accused of making deals with the drug mafia along with a minister. The appointment of such candidates is not only controversial but it can be challenged in the courts,” he said.

However, Mr Khalid Khan, one of the candidates, while talking to Dawn, said that the appointment process had been highly transparent but some elements were attempting to make it controversial.

Dr Tanveer Alam and Sheikh Akhtar did not attend calls for a comment despite many attempts.

Dr Abdul Rasheed was asked about the allegations against him and he said he is not authorised to talk to media on the issue.

An applicant for the post of the CEO requesting anonymity told Dawn that he was informed by Ferguson that he has been shortlisted.

“Some officials of the intelligence agencies also contacted me for verification of my documents but then I was unofficially informed that as I am close to the Pakistan People’s Party I cannot be considered for the interview,” he claimed.

Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2015

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