Defiant Nadra chief rejects ministry’s allegations

ISLAMABAD - Nadra Chairman Tariq Malik in a strong worded response to the show cause notice of the interior ministry has rejected all the allegations levelled against him in the notice, what he called baseless and unfounded accusations, sources aware of the development Friday informed The Nation.
Interior Ministry, some days back, had issued a four-page show cause notice to chairman National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) levelling charges of financial corruption and misuse of official powers against him and asking him to explain his position before action would be initiated against him.
In a written reply to ministry of interior and addressed to secretary interior, Tariq Malik refuted the charge of having three Pakistani passports and maintained that he had one valid Pakistani passport, besides Canadian. “Here ministry is again erred as previously held passports were expired or cancelled,” he said in the reply. He provided details of expired and cancelled passports showing that after expiry or cancellation of passport, a fresh/new passport was issued in lieu of old one.
On foreign visits Malik denied ministry’s claim of trips ranging from 100-174. He stood by his earlier figures and rebutted ministry’s figures. He said some of the trips prior to joining Nadra had also been counted. Malik maintained that competent authority approved all trips with NOCs on record. “Through these trips business worth US $17.6 million was secured for Nadra. The expenditure in comparison is a fraction of the secured revenues,” he said, stressing due to the initiative of international business Nadra became profitable and self-reliant after year 2008.
Regarding his academic qualifications, he said his MSc degree in Computer Science from QAU, sufficed to fulfil the eligibility criteria for appointment as chairman Nadra under section 3(7) of Nadra Ordinance. “My additional master’s degree in international management from Heidelberg, Germany, can be checked with HEC if the certificate of equivalence by then UGC (now HEC) is not enough,” he said.
The reply says that minister of interior ridiculed the technical certifications and executive management programmes by saying these were just seminars and anyone who can pay gets admission. Malik swiped back and said Project Management Professional (PMP) certification could not be obtained by merely paying the admission fee. “Similarly ministry of interior can confirm from Stanford University for Stanford Advance Management Programme to get the manuscript of my passing grade,” he said. He argued that entry acceptance into management or professional development programme offered by JFK School of Government at Harvard University (regardless of duration) was competitive and based on executive and professional competence. Ministry of interior may confirm how many public and civil servants completed these professional and executive programme offered by JFK School of Government.
On variation in pay issue, he maintained that during his 17 months as chairman, he had drawn on an average take home salary of Rs 735,000 per month. There was substantial variation in May 2013 when an incorrect allowance of Rs 369,219 was applied by in error by Finance Department, which was corrected in June and that was why his pay slip of June 2013 showed take home salary of Rs 247,000 only, he said.
Five other variations in five years are also normal like executive of any other commercial organisation or technocrat. “As deputy chairman Nadra, I was assigned a number of additional project-based assignments. On successful completion of these assignments, project allowance/honorarium was approved to all project employees including the deputy chairman. The Nadra revenue/profit from these project activities was far greater than the project allowances paid to employees. These pay incentives caused variation in pay in certain months. All these variations/additions were duly approved by the competent authority i.e. chairman Nadra to whom these powers were delegated by the authority,” he remarked in his reply.
“It is further informed that on certain occasions in 2011-12, where I felt I didn’t deserve honorarium or performance based bonuses, I voluntarily refunded the honorarium of Rs 1,751,759 approved in my favour by the competent authority i.e. the chairman,” Malik said. 
On smart card purchase, he mentioned that decision to switch from Teslin based substandard to internationally accepted secure and most innovative smart NICs was undertaken in 2009 by Nadra management, which was duly approved by NADRA BOARD, ministry of interior and government of Pakistan, as a matter of national security to combat forgery, human trafficking and illegal immigration and to set up a platform for targeted subsidy management, safety net, branchless banking and pension disbursement. Initially stock of 5 million blank smart cards was procured through open and competitive bidding in 2010, he said adding that due to the demand based on product consumption, and in light of passport lamination crises early this year where inventory level could not meet the expected demand, NADRA issued RFP for staggered procurement of 20 million cards to be used in 3-6years, for which first consignment would be for 5 million cards. National ID Card programs are long term planned. In Pakistan’s case after an initial test order of 5.0 million cards and going through it production cycle, it was envisaged that we must have smooth supply chain with a dependable card manufacturer. As the smart card procurement process usually takes at least 8-10 months, an RFP was floated, he said. This has not saved NADRA to the tune of USD 4.40 million, but also given flexibility of demanding production according to own requirement, while additionally protecting against repeated time lapse in production phases i.e. card designing, security features testing, machine/ card integration, factory testing etc, the reply said. Any smaller order would have entailed NADRA to go through this cycle time and again, with a possibility of running into a situation where card demand would have been generated without a dependable card inventory.  He informed the ministry that the lowest bidder, French Company won contract on merit and a local bidder went to Islamabad High Court (IHC) against award of contract, but the court eventually dismissed the litigation and termed the procurement devoid of any illegality thus, confirming PPRA rules were followed. Thus, NADRA has never been found guilty of any PPRA violations.
Answering about his frequent interactions with the media, he said, “You are well aware that while the matter of my termination was sub judice in Islamabad High Court, the worthy minister for interior held a press conference, levelled allegations against my person and cited various reasons for my dismissal. I was, therefore, rather compelled and was well within my rights to clarify my position in this regard and I chose to do so through my above-referred letter addressed to your good self.” He clarified that prior approvals for press statements or press releases on behalf of Nadra were invariably obtained from MoI’ designated media spokesperson, senior joint secretary. AS a proof he submitted the copies of approvals.

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