A court has issued non-bailable arrest warrants against former auditor general of Pakistan (AGP) Akhtar Buland Rana for concealing his Canadian citizenship in official documents.
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) was issued the warrant to arrest the suspect by a district and sessions court on Friday.
Earlier, Senior Civil Judge Abdul Ghafoor Kakar heard an application of the FIA, alleging the former AGP had “wrongfully and with mala fide intentions” concealed his Canadian citizenship while filling and signing his declaration forms.
In the handwritten application, FIA Anti-Corruption Circle’s (ACC) Inspector Afzal Niazi requested the court to issue non-bailable warrants as the suspect had been nominated in an FIR and was deliberately avoiding arrest in the case. The suspect has allegedly gone into hiding.
According to the FIR (67/2015), Rana obtained five Pakistani passports while still holding a Canadian passport.
Niazi stated the immigration and passport’s deputy director (policy) had confirmed that Rana had “never declared his other nationality”.
Rana obtained the first passport from the regional office in Islamabad in 1998. The second passport was issued from Toronto, Canada, in 2002. Two more official machine-readable passports (MRP) were issued in 2005 and 2011, respectively. Then in 2012 he was issued a diplomatic passport. Apart from these passports, Rana was also holding a Canadian passport, which constitutes an offence under Section 6 of the Passport Act of 1974.
The passport directorate general website states that official passports are issued only to Pakistani nationals who are senators, members of parliament, provincial ministers, judges of high courts and the Supreme Court, and government officers going abroad on official assignments.
The investigation officer stated in his plea the case was registered against Rana on the complaint of the AGP office administration director, Muhammad Saleem Khan, with the consent of the relevant authority. The role of the passport office officials will also be figured out during the course of investigation, he stated.
Accepting the FIA’s request, the court then issued arrest warrants for Rana.
In May 2015, the federal government sacked Rana after the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) found him guilty of misconduct.
This was the first time in Pakistan’s history that a complaint filed in the SJC sought the disqualification of an AGP. It was also just the second time the council gave its opinion to the president on any reference, filed under Article 209 of the Constitution. The council had earlier decided one reference, citing the ouster of a judge, in 1971.
In 2014, Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report had revealed Rana withdrew Rs4.62 million from the national exchequer in excess of his salary and privileges in violation of rules and regulations.
There were also complaints against his unsanctioned foreign visits, his four different passports (three Pakistani and one Canadian) and for him availing long leaves to complete residence requirements in Canada for immigration purposes, along with allegations of abuse of power.
After the initiation of the inquiry however, Rana had challenged the authority of parliament and refused to attend PAC meetings.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 23rd, 2016.