Health ministry sacks ‘whistle-blower’ in Drap

Updated January 15, 2020

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Though Prime Minister Imran Khan talks in favour of whistle-blowers, the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) has sacked a grade-18 officer who appeared in the media a number of times and alleged corruption in the ministry. — Reuters/File
Though Prime Minister Imran Khan talks in favour of whistle-blowers, the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) has sacked a grade-18 officer who appeared in the media a number of times and alleged corruption in the ministry. — Reuters/File

ISLAMABAD: Though Prime Minister Imran Khan talks in favour of whistle-blowers, the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) has sacked a grade-18 officer who appeared in the media a number of times and alleged corruption in the ministry.

The officer claimed that he was removed against rules and without being cross-questioned about allegations he had made.

But the ministry of NHS believed that the legal procedure was followed before termination of the officer.

An insider said the officer had issued a statement on his letterhead that typhoid vaccine was being used in Pakistan as an experiment and on behalf of an international company the children were being treated as guinea pigs.

According to the termination letter dated January 10 and available with Dawn, Dr Obaid Ali, deputy director (BS-18) Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap), was granted 20 days ex-Pakistan leave from Sept 26 2018. During the leave, he was posted to Pharmacy Service Division of Drap but he did not report in the division till date. An explanation letter was issued but Mr Ali did not reply.

Grade-18 officer says he was shown the door without being cross-questioned about his allegations

Besides, the officer appeared in the media and spoke against Drap regarding official matters.

When contacted, Dr Ali said he had filed a case against a former Drap chief executive officer (CEO) in Islamabad High Court (IHC).

“Ministry had submitted a letter to the court stating it had suspended me. As a result, I could not join the office. I had written a number of letters to the ministry but no one bothered to reply. According to rules, the ministry had to publish my picture in newspapers stating that I am missing and should join duty but it was not followed,” he said.

“Though it is alleged that I had talked to the media the fact is that I had sent a number of letters to Prime Minister Imran Khan and the ministry highlighting corruption and malpractices in Drap. According to rules, before giving major penalty of termination, the person leveling allegations has to be cross-questioned. A former Drap CEO had levelled allegations against me but I was not given the chance of cross-questioning him,” Mr Ali said.

An official of the ministry requesting not to be quoted said those who speak against their own organisations are never tolerated.

“Dr Ali wrote on his letterhead that typhoid vaccine is being given to children as an experiment and Pakistani children are being treated as guinea pigs,” he said.

Drap CEO Dr Asim Rauf said all procedures and rules were fulfilled before taking the decision.

“Only a few persons are authorised to appear in the media but Dr Ali did it without permission,” he said.

When contacted, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza said despite a number of warnings the officer did not stop appearing in the media.

“Because of his repeated allegations about the working of Drap, an inquiry was held. He made some allegations which were unacceptable so it was decided to terminate him. It is unfortunate that we have a crisis of management,” he said.

Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2020