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NAB witness against Dar loses plea against sacking

Updated December 31, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: A National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecution witness in the case against defunct finance minister Ishaq Dar could not convince the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to reinstate him to the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra).

Qaboos Aziz, a former director in Nadra, is among 28 prosecution witnesses that NAB has shortlisted to prove the assets reference case against the defunct minister.

The accountability court has already summoned Mr Aziz, but he has not testified yet since the IHC has stopped trial proceedings.

Former Nadra director claims he lost his job over dispute between chairman, deputy chairman

Mr Aziz was dismissed in August this year by the Nadra chairman for disciplinary reasons. His termination was highlighted in the media after NAB included him in its list of prosecution witnesses against Mr Dar. He had provided certain records of Mr Dar’s family to NAB during the investigation of the assets reference.

In the petition, Mr Aziz did not take the plea that he was victimised for providing the documents to NAB, but claimed that a dispute between the Nadra chairman and the deputy chairman cost him the job.

Mr Aziz contended that Nadra authorities believed that he was on good terms with deputy chairman Syed Muzaffar Ali, and some senior officials had even asked him to persuade Mr Ali to resign.

Mr Aziz contended that his failure to convince Mr Ali to resign was the reason behind his sudden dismissal.

However, the court was not convinced and dismissed the petition.

It may be noted that in 2016, former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had recommended Mr Ali’s elevation from the post of director general to deputy chairman in order to streamline the affairs of the authority when it faced criticism for issuing computerised national identity cards (CNICs) to Afghan nationals, including former Taliban chief Mullah Mansoor, as well as a number of financial scams.

Though a citizen had challenged the elevation of Mr Ali in 2016, Nadra did not oppose the same until Chaudhry Nisar quit as the interior minister.

After his departure, the Nadra chairman deposed before the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Sept 8, 2017 that Mr Ali was appointed on the recommendation of the former interior minister, despite the fact there is no legal provision for such an appointment.

Subsequently, the LHC suspended the deputy chairman.

Mr Ali then filed a petition challenging his suspension before the Supreme Court and claimed that after his appointment as deputy chairman, an unknown person had challenged his and the postings of all members of the Nadra board before the LHC.

“It is interested to note that except the appointment of chairman, who is also a member of Nadra board, the appointments of all other members have been challenged, which shows the connivance of the Nadra chairman with the petitioner,” his petition had claimed. The apex court, after a preliminary hearing, referred the case to the LHC.

The Supreme Court observed that since the LHC had issued an interim order regarding the suspension of Mr Ali and the petition against his elevation was still pending adjudication, it was appropriate to let the LHC to pass a final order.

Published in Dawn, December 31st, 2017