Controversial appointment: Buland Akhtar Rana named new Auditor General

PML-N lashes out at govt for selecting an ally to mask corruption.

Express August 24, 2011


President Asif Ali Zardari has appointed Buland Akhtar Rana as the Auditor General of Pakistan at a time when the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is all set to take up the government’s audit reports involving financial irregularities and embezzlement of billions of rupees.

The PML-N has condemned Rana’s appointment as a propagation of ‘cronyism’ culture by the government. Rana belongs to Multan and is affiliated with the PPP. A close associate of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, he will take oath as the 17th Auditor General of Pakistan.

(Read: PM promotes friend, props up chances of top auditor’s post)

Rana is the senior most official of the audit and accounts group. His appointment has ended the race for the four-year lucrative constitutional assignment. Chairman Federal Board of Revenue was also a candidate.

“The presidency has confirmed my appointment to the post of Auditor General,” Rana told The Express Tribune. In reply to a question regarding the opposition leader’s reservations, Rana said the office of the AGP is neutral and is answerable to Parliament. The PAC, headed by the opposition leader in the lower house of Parliament, will take up audit reports of the Gilani-led coalition government in the next meeting. During the last three years, the PAC cleared the backlog of the Musharraf era.

PAC chairman Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan had earlier threatened to resign if the government proceeded to appoint its ‘favourite’. Khan had expressed strong reservations over the unceremonious removal of the former AGP and declared the new officer was ‘handpicked’ to cover up the government’s corruption.

(Read: Accountant-general leaves office prematurely)

“Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is the only institution in the country which has recovered Rs115 billion in the last three years in times of rampant corruption,” Khan said. He said that there is no precedent for such marvelous performance.

He acknowledged the fact that the appointment of the new AGP was the President’s prerogative but he contended that the President should have consulted him on moral grounds and in recognition of the committee’s performance.

The slot of the AGP has been vacant since July 19 on the completion of Tanvir Ali Agha’s four-year term. He was sworn in on July 20, 2007. He took oath for a period of five years under the pre-18th amendment Constitution. He was entitled to remain in office for five years or until 65 years of age, whichever was earlier. His five-year term would have expired in July 2012 but he will turn 65 on November 14, this year.

The 18th amendment reduced the term to four years or 65 years of age if it is attained earlier. Tanvir Ali Agha contended that he took oath for five years but his term would end on November 14, this year when he would turn 65. Khan had supported Agha’s stance and took his ouster as an attempt to hinder PAC’s working. PML-N’s Secretary Information Senator Mushahidullah Khan also expressed concern over Rana’s appointment and said it reflects the culture of ‘cronyism’ promoted by the government.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 24th, 2011.