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Court restores hours after govt removes NADRA chief

04 December, 2013

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday suspended the notification of sacking of National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) Chairman Tariq Malik after the government removed him from the post.

The court also suspended another notification regarding appointment of NADRA Director General Brigadier (r) Zahid as the acting chairman. Tariq Malik had challenged the federal government's decision to terminate his service contract six months ahead of its actual expiry, in the IHC. His lawyer, Babar Sattar, apprised the court that his client's contract had been cancelled without giving any reason, which was unconstitutional.

Justice Noorul N Haq Qureshi, while accepting the petition, suspended the government's notification and adjourned the hearing until December 11. Earlier on Tuesday, the government had removed Tariq Malik from his post without notifying any reasons and had appointed NADRA Sindh Director General Brigadier (r) Zahid as the acting chairman of the authority.

Tariq Malik was scheduled to brief the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) about recounting of votes on Tuesday. Sources said that there was a possibility that Malik was removed as NADRA chairman for not accepting pressure of an influential person. The election tribunal had directed the NADRA chairman to verify thumb impressions of voters of NA-118, Lahore, where Riaz Hussain of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had been declared successful, while M Zaman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had challenged his victory.

The sources said that the influential person had pressurised Tariq Malik to issue verified certificates of thumb impressions in accordance with his wish. But Malik made it clear that his post demanded he issue verified certificates of thumb impressions by keeping in view all facts, with honesty and impartiality. The influential person had told him that he should be ready to quit his post. Meanwhile, it has been learnt that Malik is receiving life threats and his security had been tightened.

Meanwhile, terming the May general election as widely engineered, senators on Tuesday said NADRA chairman has become the first victim of the "heavy rigging" in the elections because he refused to "engineer" results of thumb verification in NA-118 constituency. PPP Senator Saeed Ghani, on a point of order, said Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan last night called the NADRA chairman and asked him to give the decision in favour of the government.

"When Tariq Malik refused then he demanded his resignation. He again refused, and lastly, the minister sacked him," Ghani said. He said this action was totally against the NADRA Act.

End.

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