ISLAMABAD: Balochistan government's spokesperson Jan Buledi called for a ‘suitable position’ for former chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Chaudhry in the government on Thursday, while also defending his son Dr Arsalan Ifitikhar’s controversial appointment.
“Keeping in view the meritorious services for democracy, the rule of law and the constitution, in his capacity as a chief justice of Pakistan, Chaudhry Saahib, should also be appointed on a suitable post which must be in accordance to his stature,” Buledi told The Express Tribune.
Chaudhry’s role in the case of the Baloch missing persons had gained prominence in the apex court during his tenure.
When asked whether the Balochistan government was seriously considering appointing Chaudhry, Buledi said, “We do not have any suitable job available with us to be offered to the former chief justice in the province as … Chaudhry Saahib is big man and he must be given a government position which is equal to [stature].”
Dr Arsalan’s appointment
Buledi also defended the employment of Chaudhry’s son, Dr Arsalan Iftikhar as vice-chairman of the Balochistan Investment Board (BIB).
Setting aside the notion that Arsalan was accommodated on the recommendation of his father, he said “it was the chief minister’s own initiative”.
In 2012, a financial impropriety case was filed against Arsalan, following media reports that he had received between Rs300-400 million from Malik Riaz, a property tycoon and chairman of Bahria Town, to influence judicial proceedings.
Buledi said Balochistan Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch had taken a wise decision to appoint Dr Arsalan and thinks it would play a key role in attracting international financial investment in the province.
“Arsalan is Baloch and has the capacity to serve his province,” he said, adding that the former chief justice’s son had served in the health department of Balochistan a long time ago.
While saying he was unaware as to who had recommended Arsalan for the job, Buledi stated, “I think it is in the greater interest of Balochistan and its people who are keen on the development of the province.”
Opposition political parties in the Balochistan assembly and civil society leaders have vehemently criticised the appointment made last week by the provincial chief minister and termed it unacceptable.
Senator Saifullah Magsi of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam –Fazal ( JUI-F ) spokesperson Jan Achakzai, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Assad Umer, and Tariq Mehmood, a former judge of the Balochistan High Court are among those who opposed the appointment.
Achakzai said that the JUI-F, being a key opposition party in Balochistan, had rejected Dr Arsalan’s appointment due to his corruption-tainted reputation in the past.
“The Balochistan government had time and again made tall claims of its drive against financial corruption in the province,” he said, adding that “this appointment has exposed the real situation of the provincial government.”
The JUI-F spokesperson also claimed that the ruling National Party (NP) is divided over the appointment, and said that a Baloch senator affiliated with the NP had promised the JUI-F leadership to review the chief minister’s decision.
Achakzai also claimed that certain members of the provincial cabinet are embarrassed over the issue.
Senator Magsi, son of former governor Balochistan Nawab Zulfikar Magsi, while raising his objection said that it was an unlawful decision on part of the chief minister.
“Relevant rules and regulations demanded a transparent procedure for such an appointment,” he explained, claiming that Arsalan’s appointment was made in a non-transparent manner.
An advertisement by the provincial government should have appeared in the newspapers for the vacant position of the vice-chairman of the BIB, but the government took its decision without meeting that essential requirement, he said.
PTI’s Umer - an economist and legislature - termed the appointment as an example of the worst administrative and financial corruption on the part of the Balochistan chief minister.
“Our party chief Imran Khan has also registered his protest over the issue, and he would continue to resist the appointment in his address to the public meetings,” the PTI leader said, adding that, “Arsalan had no background to run an investment board and he had been accommodated to appease some people.”
Former BHC judge Tariq Mehmood is of the view that it was not a simple matter of offering a job to an unemployed person.
“I would have never accepted such a job for my son had I been offered by the provincial government,” he remarked.
“The matter should be investigated by investigative journalists regarding who managed a government position for such a person,” he concluded.
Buledi, however, said he was not aware of any such reaction but admitted that the decision was not appreciated by anyone.
“I don’t know whether some people have welcomed the appointment,” he added.
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