The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has started investigating the assets of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) incumbent chairman, Rashid Ahmad, who also stands accused of illegally holding the post.
Ahmad, a former principal information officer, and some other officers of the Press Information Department (PID) of the information ministry, have been accused of corruption, with cases pending in the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). Moreover, a complaint lodged by Muhammad Imran revealed that an inquiry regarding the approval of payments to an advertising agency M/s SIMM, whose owner is a close relative of the Pemra chairman, is pending in the NAB’s Rawalpindi/Islamabad office for a long time.
According to the application, the complainant stated that the FIA had lodged an FIR under Sections 420, 468, 471, 109 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) besides initiating an inquiry against directors of the M/s SIMM, officials of the PID and some other concerned government functionaries.
The FIA had lodged this FIR on the complaint of Pakistan Agricultural Research Council’s (PARC) public relations director. According to this complaint M/s SIMM had succeeded to get a payment of Rs28 million through fake NOCs with the connivance of PID and government officials.
Defiance of SC orders
Meanwhile, in view of the Supreme Court judgment of January 15, 2013, Ahmad’s appointment as Pemra chairman is a clear-cut violation of the court’s orders. According to Para 6 of the January 15, 2013 Supreme Court judgment, the person appointed for the post must fulfill the requirements mentioned in the Pemra Ordinance, and should be appointed through an ‘open transparent process’.
However, contrary to court orders, various violations have been found regarding the appointment of Rashid Ahmad.
According to sources, the summary of the appointment of Pemra chairman was initiated after the January 15 order of the Supreme Court, however the date stated on the summary was January 8, prior to the apex court’s orders and Ahmad was appointed to the post of the chairman on January 26.
At the time of his appointment, Ahmad was a serving government official working as information and broadcasting secretary and was due to retire on May 26, 2013. Therefore, according to rules and regulations, the office of Pemra chairman fell vacant on May 26, 2013. However, Ahmad continued to serve as Pemra chairman and was not given a fresh contract on MP-1 scale.
Sources reveal that the government wants Rashid Ahmad to continue working as the media watchdog’s chairman, however the Supreme Court has barred re-employment of public servants after retirement.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 2nd, 2013.
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