Nawaz, Shah agree to appoint ‘serving’ interior secretary as NAB chief

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  • Qamar Zaman wins confidence of PPP, PML-N, MQM
  • PTI rejects nomination, terms move ‘underhand deal’
  • SM Zafar says no legal hitch involved but it will leave a ‘bad taste’ in mouth

 

In a dramatic development, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah on Tuesday agreed to appoint senior-most bureaucrat and sitting Interior Secretary Major (r) Chaudhry Qamar Zaman as chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), however, his appointment would be made once his retirement orders are issued by the government, Pakistan Today has learnt reliably.

The position of NAB chairman was last occupied by Admiral (r) Fasih Bokhari, who was forced to vacate the position in May after the Supreme Court declared his appointment illegal. The PML-N government had been under pressure from the Supreme Court over the appointment of a NAB chief. The apex court had also threatened the government with “consequences” if it delayed the appointment of NAB chairman.

However, the second biggest opposition party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) rejected the appointment, terming the move an underhand deal between the ruling PML-N and opposition Pakistan People’s Party.

Being close to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Chaudhry was reinstated as interior secretary soon after Sharif assumed office this year. His loyalty towards Sharifs could only be gauged by the fact that Chaudhry had also been tasked with registration of an FIR against former military dictator General Pervez Musharraf under treason act despite the fact that he also had a military background.

Legal controversy:

Under the National Accountability Bureau Ordinance (NAO), a serving federal secretary cannot be appointed NAB chairman. The urgency in the government to appoint Chaudhry could only be gauged by the fact that Chaudhry is still serving as the secretary for interior, but his name was proposed and was agreed upon by prime minister and opposition leader despite knowing the fact that he could not be appointed NAB chief until his retirement. The website of Ministry of Interior also carried the name of Chaudhry as its federal secretary until late Tuesday night.

NAO clearly states, “8[(ba) A person shall not be appointed as Chairman NAB unless he –

(i) is a retired Chief Justice or a Judge of the Supreme Court  or a Chief Justice of a High Court, or

(ii) is a retired officer of the Armed Forces of Pakistan equivalent to the rank of a Lieutenant General; or

(iii) is a retired Federal Government Officer in BPS 22 or equivalent].

However, Media, Prime Minister’s Office Media Joint Secretary Mohyuddin Wani said Chaudhry stood retired on Tuesday upon his own request. “He was considered for (the post of) chairman following this (retirement),” he added.

But officials in the Interior Ministry contradicted the claim, saying Chaudhry attended office on Tuesday and remained at office until late at night. “He is still working in the office,” an official said.

Noted legal expert SM Zafar said under the spirit of the NAO, a civil servant should be appointed NAB chairman who has completed his full term in office and after reaching an age of superannuation.

“In this case, it would look odd if Qamar Zaman is appointed after retirement before the age of superannuation. However, technically, there is no harm even if he is appointed after early retirement; only that it will leave a bad taste as the post demands transparency and impartiality. But there is no legal hitch,” he added.

PRO to Syed Khurshid Shah, Waqar Gilani, confirmed that the prime minister and Shah had agreed on the appointment during a telephonic conversation. Later, Shah also confirmed that Nawaz had called him and proposed the name of Chaudhry.

“Since, Qamar Zaman Chaudhry had also served under the PPP government and he had served closely, we have agreed on his appointment as NAB chairman,” Shah added. He said the Supreme Court had said that a meaningful consultation was mandatory for appointment of NAB chief and the same had been done in the appointment of NAB chief.

“I held five meetings with the prime minister for a non-controversial NAB chairman. There was a consensus on the nominations of Abdur Rauf Chaudhry and Shaukat Durrani but both were rejected on technical basis,” he said.

He added that ultimately, two days back, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar contacted him and gave two to three new names that included Qamar Zaman and Justice (r) Javed Iqbal.

“I consulted with other friends and it was agreed to finalise the nomination of Qamar Zaman. He also served under the PPP government and he has a good record.”

A source in the government told Pakistan Today that Nawaz wanted any of his confidants for the job to head the anti-corruption watchdog and hence he urged Shah to review the nomination of Qamar Zaman Chaudhry.

“Chaudhry has served closely with Nawaz Sharif. During his previous stint as prime minister in 1997-99, Qamar Zaman served as the Islamabad chief commissioner and also acted as CDA chairman. He was also appointed Punjab chief secretary during caretaker regime recently, but was objected to by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and PML-Q,” the source added.

MIXED POLITICAL REACTION:

“We reject this nomination. We were never consulted by either side – neither the treasury nor the opposition. This is a typical muk muka,” Dr Shireen Mazari, the secretary-information of Imran Khan-led PTI, said.

The Mutahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM), the third major political force in opposition, did not object to the appointment.

“We don’t have any objection to this nomination. But the MQM was not consulted. It would have been better if other opposition parties had also been consulted,” an MQM spokesman said.

Chaudhry Qamar Zaman previously served as the interior secretary, taking over from his predecessor Syed Kamal Shah in year 2009.

He worked with former Interior Minister Rehman Malik. He also served as aide-de-camp (ADC) to former dictator General Ziaul Haq.

2 COMMENTS

  1. PMLN ,PPP are the same face of a false coin as they have agreed that they will not touch each other in Money Laundering cases.It is hoped that TahirulQadri

  2. . He also served as aide-de-camp (ADC) to former dictator General Ziaul Haq ,

    He has come a long way and has stood the challenges of time . A quality bureaucrat.who has proved his skills and diplomacy .

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