Pakistan Railways bans record sharing with NAB, FIA sans officers permission

Updated 19 Dec 2019

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Passengers board a train at a station. — AFP/File
Passengers board a train at a station. — AFP/File

LAHORE: Pakistan Railways has imposed a ban on direct correspondence and provision of important record by his officers to the anti-graft agencies — National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in various cases.

The PR management has also directed its entire field formations to first get permission from the chief executive officer (CEO) before giving any information, document etc to NAB and FIA.

“It has been observed with concern that the correspondence, including provision of official record/documents to anti-graft agencies like NAB, FIA is being carried out without following standard protocols and without the knowledge and prior approval of of the PR headquarters office,” reads a letter sent by Deputy General Manager Qasim Zahoor to the PR police inspector general, director general (Walton Training School), additional general managers (AGMs) for traffic, mechanical and infrastructure, all principal officers and divisional superintendents, general managers (GMs) and managing directors (MDs).

“The CEO has taken serious notice of this practice. And he has directed that in future any correspondence, including provision of record, documents etc to NAB, FIA would be carried out after his approval. Any laxity in this regard will be viewed seriously,” the letter warns.

Talking to Dawn, a senior PR official termed the order unlawful under various laws related to access to information and those empowering NAB or FIA to seize the required record in case of any delay in provision of the same during inquiries.

“This order reflects that something was wrong on the part of PR offices. The PR offices are already extra cautious while dealing with such institutions [NAB, FIA] and mostly they send copies of the documents to their seniors at PR headquarters,” the official, who preferred anonymity, told this reporter. He said the condition would not only cause delay in provision of any document to NAB or FIA authorities concerned but also create an atmosphere of mistrust.

“While the official record is public, why we need to cause delay in providing it to NAB, FIA or any other agency,” he asked.

However, the PR CEO Mr Aijaz Buriro dispelled the impression, stating the order was aimed at avoiding misunderstandings, misinformation and embarrassing situations. “Actually, the officers used to get involved in direct correspondence and provision of record (files, papers etc) to NAB and FIA. But, we had no information what exactly had been sent to these departments,” he said.

Mr Buriro was of the view that if all correspondence or record sharing was done through a centralised system (with officers approval), there would be no issue. “That is why focal persons are appointed in various departments to deal with such issues”.

He said the order didn’t mean to create any hurdle in sharing PR record with the anti-graft bodies.

“Since we are already cooperating with them [NAB, FIA] a lot, the new system would provide us with accurate and credible information,” the CEO added. He said NAB had been PR probing into 10 cases related to alleged corruption in procurement of locomotives and other issues.

Published in Dawn, December 19th, 2019