The sudden resignation of defiant NADRA chairman Tariq Malik, who helped the authority earn $17.6 million in foreign contracts in two years, was a consequence of threatening phone calls made to his daughter, it has recently been revealed.
Preferring the security of his family over his job, the gentleman met Interior Secretary Shahid Ali Khan last Friday to tender his resignation. The government had removed him from his position last month as the chairman of the authority that runs a national database of citizens. But the Islamabad High Court restored him. Since then, he had been fighting alone.
[quote]Things changed when he began to verify thumbprints of voters in Lahore [/quote]
Insiders say his family wanted him to resist, but Tariq Malik found no support in the civil society or the media, or even the opposition party Tehrik-e-Insaf.
On January 13, days after his resignation, the Islamabad High Court released the detailed verdict of the petition challenging his removal by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The court had overturned his December 2 sacking the very next day, calling it illegal.
Justifying the government’s decision, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar made a number of allegations against Tariq Malik. But commentators say the government was ready to work with Tariq Malik when he was supervising the verification of thumb impressions in votes cast in the May 13 elections in Karachi. Things only changed when he was told by election tribunals to verify the thumb impressions of voters in constituencies won by the PML-N in Lahore. The city is seen as the ruling party’s stronghold.
It was reported that National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq, who beat PTI chairman Imran Khan in Lahore, could have been the first major causality of the process if problems were found.
In the beginning, Tariq Malik was delivered polite messages to stop the exercise. Malik said that he had been directed by election tribunals to carry out the verification, and had no authority to start or stop the process on his own. He was asked to tell the court that NADRA did not have the capacity to carry out the verification. Tariq Malik said it was not possible because the technology was already being used in Karachi.
[quote]Threatening phone calls were made to his daughter[/quote]
Then, Tariq Malik was asked to meet Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and brief him on as how NADRA could help him with some projects in his province. When he agreed, he was made to brief provincial law minister Rana Sanaullah instead. While the briefing went on, orders were being prepared by the Interior Ministry in Islamabad to sack him late at night. A bank check of his gratuity and a one-month salary was delivered at his house the same night. Tariq Malik rushed back to Islamabad and challenged the orders in the court.
After the plan failed, the Interior Ministry began to contact the subordinate staff at NADRA directly, to brief the minister and the secretary about their chairman. The FIA was told to investigate allegations against Tariq Malik.
Meanwhile, threatening phone calls were made to the NADRA chairman’s daughter, recorded by the ISI, reportedly initiated in Faisalabad. That is when Tariq Malik decided to quit.
This is not the first such incident in recent history. When former FIA director Zafar Ahmed Qureshi began investigation into the multibillion rupee NICL scam involving Moonis Elahi, son of former Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, Qureshi informed the Supreme Court that he was receiving threats. While Qureshi had the backing of then chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, Malik resisted the might of federal government on his own.