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February 18, 2018

Appointment of DRAP chief sparks legal reaction

Islamabad

February 18, 2018

Islamabad : Justice Amer Farooq of the Islamabad High Court has taken strict note of a writ petition filed by Noor Muhammad Mahar (through senior advocate Ali Nawaz Kharal) against the interim appointment of Sheikh Akhtar Hussain as acting chief executive office (CEO) of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP).

The development comes in the wake of the fact that Sheikh Akhtar was declared dead in two corruption references of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the years 2001 and 2004. Moreover, two inquiries are pending against him in NAB and FIA on account of accumulation of assets beyond means.

Akhtar is a BS 19 officer of DARP and has superseded BPS 20 and 21 officers in DRAP and the Ministry of Health to occupy the top slot at DRAP. His appointment as acting CEO is allegedly against the statutory requirements prescribed under the law. He was shielded in the trial of two NAB references on account of incorrect entry in references showing him as dead person, while he was actually serving on a BPS 17 post in the Ministry of Health. Furthermore, his involvement in accumulating assets beyond known sources of his income, as pointed out by the Director Intelligence (NAB), is also allegedly sufficient to disqualify his appointment.

According to reports, Akhtar Hussain is now allegedly victimising honest officers in DRAP; on February 14, 2018, Dr. Roohi Bano Obaid, deputy director of the Central Drug Laboratory, Karachi, was shown the door with effect from January 30, 2018 as she is known to have played a key role in highlighting the corrupt practices allegedly prevalent in DRAP. Efforts are also allegedly being made to get rid of Dr. Obaid Ali (husband of Roohi Obaid), Federal Drug Inspector, Sindh, who wrote a letter (on February 13, 2018) to the Supreme Court of Pakistan on exorbitant medicine and transfer pricing by pharmaceutical companies in connivance with DRAP officials. Dr. Obaid is a trainer of the World Health Organisation for 21 countries and is qualified from Harvard University, USA. Even though the predecessor of Akhtar Hussain retired on January 28, 2018, and it was mandatory to advertise the post of CEO of DRAP in newspapers, no such advertisement has appeared even after the 20 days of retirement of Aslam Afghani.

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