Former interior minister Rehman Malik had unlawfully issued official passports to businessmen and influential people, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) learnt on Friday.
The disclosure may earn him more trouble, as Rehman Malik, who is currently adviser to the prime minister on interior, has already been facing multiple lawsuits in the apex court.
In response to a question by PAC member Hamid Yar Hiraj, Interior Secretary Khawaja Sadeeq Akbar told the committee that Malik and he were issuing ‘Blue Passports’ to businessmen and other influential people.
However, he contested that neither of them did anything wrong as rules allow issuances of official passports to private persons. While refusing to accept Akbar’s response, the PAC, headed by Yasmeen Rehman, sought a detailed report and a copy of the rules that supposedly give such wild discretionary powers.
“I recently requested for an official passport for my brother and the interior secretary said the rules do not allow issuance of a Blue Passport to a private person,” Mian Riaz Hussain Peerzada, a PAC member from the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, pointed out.
The Supreme Court had suspended Malik’s Senate membership for holding dual nationalities, following which he was appointed adviser to the prime minister on interior.
Malik is also facing contempt of court charges after he constituted a joint investigation team to probe into alleged corruption in the Pakistan Steel Mills despite knowing that the matter was sub judice.
Malik’s security concerns
The PAC was told that Malik, who is in charge of homeland security, is afraid of stepping out of his house. “Rehman Malik doesn’t attend his office due to security reasons and has converted his house into his camp office,” disclosed the interior secretary.
The PAC also questioned the interior secretary on the deputation of Frontier Constabulary personnel with foreigners and VVIPs. “What is the point of having the FC when it cannot provide protection to the citizens,” said Noor Alam of the Pakistan Peoples Party. The committee also sought a report on expenses incurred during last five years by relatives of the prime minister, ministers and parliament while providing security.
Issue of missing passports
Meanwhile, the accountability body of parliament was unable to get the interior secretary to disclose the names of officials involved in stealing 5,634 passports. It also could not figure out whether the ministry held an internal inquiry to fix responsibility over the issue.
The interior secretary, instead, tabled a one-page summary, stating the background of the scam. According to the summary, which did not have any official seals, the Federal Investigation Agency has arrested the culprits and all stolen passports have been recovered.
In June last year, as many as 5,634 passports were stolen from the office of the Travel Agents Association of Pakistan, Karachi. The PAC criticised the interior secretary for lack of financial discipline and unpreparedness for the meeting. The chairperson warned to cut 5% salaries of interior ministry officials if they came unprepared to the meeting again.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 30th, 2012.
More in PakistanAssertions: Surjeet says Sarabjeet converted to Islam