ISLAMABAD: Eight candidates have been short-listed for the coveted office of the chairman of National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).
The four who top the list include two officials of the authority itself, Arshad Javaid of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and Shahbaz Sharif’s blue-eyed Dr Umer Saif. A total of 170 candidates are vying for the chairmanship of NADRA, according to the official documents. Well-placed sources confirm that the evaluation of applications put a NADRA official on the top with a good margin. The previous custom in the authority was to install a handpicked favourite to the position.
“Had it not been up to Interior minister Nisar Ali Khan, the slot would have gone to some favourite the same way. He has so far stood his ground, at least on this account,” says a senior PML-N leader privy to developments in Raiwind and Islamabad. There are a few, however, who believe that the long-delayed appointment will eventually be made on merit instead of on the basis of association with the prime minister and the Punjab chief minister.
It’s worth mentioning that the final date for the submission of applications was May 24, which was extended till June 10 through corrigendum on May 25. Highly placed sources claim that additional secretary to the PM, Fawad Hassan Fawad, engineered the move in the absence of embattled Chaudhry Nisar. Earlier, it had taken three months for the advertisement to be prepared. Interestingly, the advertisement for the “ideal” candidate is allegedly tailored to suit an IT professional who has worked closely with the Punjab CM over the past many years and whose father is an unofficial but important adviser to the third-time premier.
It has been learnt that the PTIB chairman’s father, Colonel (r) Saif, is not only adviser to Maryam Nawaz Sharif but can also be found in the PM’s Secretariat despite being just an office-bearer of the PML-N’s Model Town office. “They know whom to hire for the post, but the date extension was a tactic to delay the process till the vote counting and verification job is completed to the satisfaction,” a source in the top executive office confirmed.
Unlike Khawaja Naeem and Saeed Mehdi in NEPRA and SNGPL respectively, the hand-picked appointee in NADRA may not have a smooth landing. With ad hoc-ism stretching into illegality, the government has no option but to appoint a full-time chairman for the database authority. Imtiaz Tajwar, a bureaucrat of the Interior Ministry lost legal authority to officiate as acting chairman after the lapse of his 60 days in the office i.e. March 14. With NADRA being in the eye of the storm on issues of voter verification and bogus vote tempering in connivance with the Election Commission of Pakistan, a professional and neutral chairman may restore the credibility of the 14-year-old national institution.
Political analysts too believe that quick and transparent appointment of the NADRA chairman will send a positive message to the political rivals and international observers alike. While nepotism has its dire consequences, delaying tactics may have become ineffective too.
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