ISLAMABAD - The PML-N government has dismissed Pemra Chairman Chaudhry Rashid Ahmed over charges of corruption in multiple cases.
The president removed him on the advice of prime minister declaring the appointment ab-initio, void, illegal and in violation of Supreme Court guidelines and orders in Pemra acting chairman case and in Kh Asif vs state case.
The appointment of Pakistan Electronic and Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) chief as per requirement was neither open nor transparent, sources said. Ch Rashid, being Information secretary and a serving government employee, initiated a summary proposing himself as a candidate of Pemra chairmanship without carrying out open and transparent process of appointment.
According to reports, information ministry had sent a summary to the president for Ch Rasheed’s removal, though legal experts say the government should have fulfilled strict regulations for this purpose. Legal experts say that it’s a constitutional designation and Pemra head can only be discharged according to Section 6 and 7 of Pemra laws. The head of the regulatory authority can only be sacked if he is unable to render his services because of any disease or accident, they add.
Political circles, especially the opposition, have expressed concern over the removal of Pemra chief in this way, saying the government wants to gain control of all institutions including Nadra and Pemra but it would not be so easy in presence of free judiciary. The government recently had also sacked National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) chairman but he was soon reinstated by the Islamabad High Court (IHC).
According to informed sources, Ch Rashid had been enjoying a good position when former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf was holding the ministerial portfolio of Water and Power. During his tenure, he had a major role in handling the rental power projects about which the World Bank, in its report, had raised very critical objections.
The sources further said that in his capacity as federal information secretary and Pemra chairman he was summoned by the Supreme Court to explain his position regarding a controversy with a renowned media group. He also remained under suspension for over a year over charges of massive corruption but Raja Pervez Ashraf reinstated his blue-eyed babu after becoming prime minister. He was later shifted to the country’s supreme media regulatory authority where he could not save his image as he was alleged of doing corruption and indulging in corrupt practices, the sources added. The corruption case against Ch Rashid is still pending with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Chaudhry Rashid Ahmad has earlier served in vital and high profile media handling assignments with a fair amount of success, including being the principal information officer (PIO). He has held the posts of senior joint secretary at water and power ministry, internal publicity director general, National Press Trust (NPT) chairman, Shalimar Recording and Broadcasting Corporation (SRBC) MD; Ministry of Information and Broadcasting press director, Information Department press director, Information Service Academy director; press counsellor at Embassy of Pakistan in Tehran (Iran), and press attaché at Pakistan High Commission, Colombo (Sri Lanka). He has also been executive director at Associated Press of Pakistan (APP).
The removed Pemra chief has attended courses related to administration and leadership in Indonesia and the United States. He recently visited China and played important role in enhancing cooperation between Pakistan and China in the sphere of media. He was appointed information and broadcasting secretary in July last.