ISLAMABAD: Former chief of Pakistan Navy, Admiral (retd) Fasih Bokhari, was formally notified as chairman of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Sunday despite objections raised by the opposition PML-N that the legal process required by the Constitution had not been followed in his nomination for the post.
The new chairman assumed charge of his office late in the night, sources told this correspondent.
With the appointment of Admiral Bokhari to the post which had been lying vacant since the removal of Justice (retd) Deedar Hussain Shah in March this year, the premier accountability organisation of the country became functional again after three months of inaction.
A notification of the law ministry signed by the president said: “The president of Islamic Republic of Pakistan has been pleased to appoint Admiral (retd) Fasih Bokhari as Chairman National Accountability Bureau in terms of section 6(b) of National Accountability Ordinance 1999, with immediate effect.”
But the PML-N rejected the decision and indicated that it might challenge the appointment in the Supreme Court.
“We believe that the government has taken the decision in haste as President Zardari did not give a satisfactory reply to a letter written by the Leader of Opposition, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, after thorough consultations with opposition party’s legal team,” said PML-N spokesman Mushahidullah.
The notification was issued after former law minister Babar Awan had met President Asif Zardari, the sources said.
Mr Bokhari is the fifth NAB chairman belonging to the armed forces. Earlier, NAB chiefs from the military were Lt-Gen Amjad Hussain, Lt-Gen Khalid Maqbool, Lt-Gen Munir Hafiez and Lt-Gen (retd) Shahid Aziz.
The two civilian heads of the bureau are Navaid Ahsan and Justice (retd) Deedar Hussain Shah.
Under the NAB Ordinance, the government is required to hold consultation with the Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly for the appointment.
President Zardari had sent a letter to Chaudhry Nisar on Oct 9 seeking his consent for the appointment. Chaudhry Nisar replied on Friday, raising objections to the appointment on technical grounds.
He asked the government to prepare a list of possible candidates for the office of NAB chairman and hold ‘meaningful’ consultations with the opposition.
“Mr President, if the objective of the entire exercise is to select a nominee with impeccable reputation, integrity and credibility and unquestionable impartiality, there is no reason whatsoever for hesitation on the part of the government to engage with the opposition in a thorough, concrete and meaningful consultation.”
When contacted, President’s spokesman Farhatullah Babar said the president had appointed Admiral (retd) Bokhari as NAB chairman on the advice of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.
Responding to a question about the opposition’s response, he said: “President Zardari, in his reply to the Leader of Opposition, had addressed all objections raised by Chaudhry Nisar and now the issuance of notification was a mere formality.”
President Zardari in his reply to the Leader of Opposition on Saturday said: “The sense of various judgments of superior courts is that the consultation shall be meaningful and for this purpose there is no necessity of sending a panel of nominees.
“Therefore, meaningful consultation can be done even on a single person and for that purpose you are taken on board quite candidly. Sending of a panel for consultation does not have any legal cover as well, there being no legal requirement as such. I have consulted the Leader of the House in the National Assembly on the subject who has concurred to the proposal.”
Admiral Bokhari is a retired four-star naval officer who served as Chief of Naval Staff from 1997 to 1999.
Admiral Bokhari is a graduate from the French Naval War College and served on several high posts during his tenure at the Pakistan Navy.
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