The appointment of Akhtar Buland Rana as the auditor general of Pakistan (AGP) has become yet another matter of controversy pitching the executive against the judiciary. In a letter written to the president, with a copy to the prime minister, the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, has pointed out serious charges exist against Rana, which could render him constitutionally ineligible to hold the post for which he has been nominated.
The charges against Rana are disturbing. They include the obtaining of the nationality of another country without government permission, using several different passports and identity cards, and assault on a woman who worked under him in the past. In all, the CJP has sighted seven different charges against the man appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister. From the letter, it appears the CJP believes action can be initiated against the AGP under Article 209 of the Constitution which deals with disciplinary action and lays down the role of the Supreme Judicial Council in this.
All these are, of course, extremely serious accusations. If any of them are true, it is obvious that Rana should not hold the post to which he has been appointed. The AGP, responsible for looking into financial wrongdoing in government ministries and bodies, needs to be a person who can command respect and is himself seen as being above board. If this is not the case it makes it difficult for him to operate with any degree of effectiveness. For these reasons it is important the government examine the matter and see how much weight the CJP’s stern words hold. It is also important that all institutions of the state work together as a team. If this does not happen, there can only be trouble of various kinds. We have seen too much of this in the past. Cooperation and trust is badly required. Whatever can be done to build it should happen, even if this involves some loss of face for certain individuals or the search for a more worthy candidate to hold one of the most important offices in the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 28th, 2011.