Chairman of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) Tariq Malik has resigned, citing a “politically charged and polarised environment” as his reason.
Tuesday during a conference at the Prime Minister’s House, Malik submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. During the meeting, PM Shehbaz acknowledged Malik’s contributions and expressed his wish that he would continue to contribute to the country’s future progress and prosperity.
In a letter to the prime minister, Malik cited a “politically charged and polarised environment” as an impediment to his ability to perform.
He wrote, “While it has been an absolute honour to lead NADRA, to have connected with so many wonderful individuals and institutions, and to have learned so much, I find it increasingly difficult to work in an increasingly charged and polarised political environment.”
He stated that it is difficult for any professional to maintain his integrity and independence in an environment where political loyalty is prioritised over competence and where people are continually categorised according to a “us versus them” logic.
“As you may know, I come from a modest family of academicians whose devotion to Pakistan is unquestionable. My values are more significant than any anticipated concessions. Whether Party X, Y, or Z is in power, I have endeavoured to serve all current administrations with dignity and decorum. I have made sincere representations on behalf of NADRA before several parliamentary select committees. Whether a member of parliament sits in the treasury or the opposition, I have served the legitimate interests of all stakeholders.”
Additionally, he implored the prime minister not to appoint an active or retired bureaucrat as NADRA chairman.
“The organisation requires a competent expert with a background in both technology and management. Pakistan was light years ahead of India in Aadhar in 2013. “However, despite being a leader in the field, our lack of consistency and cohesion in dealing with this vital national organisation has left us in the dust,” he added.
NADRA cannot afford additional “political experimentation” and must be protected as one of Pakistan’s islands of excellence, he added.
Malik explained that when he was asked to assist the Election Commission of Pakistan, he collaborated with all political parties regardless of their heritage.
“I wrote letters to over 300 political parties and gave them access to NADRA so they could observe how voter lists are compiled in the presence of ECP. I fundamentally believe in the transformative force of institutions that transcend individuals and political parties.”
In the current politically combustible atmosphere, according to Malik, it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain the crucial balancing act.
“I would like to be relieved of my responsibilities as Chairman of NADRA. Please accept this letter as my resignation notice,” he wrote.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was investigating corruption allegations against Malik regarding irregularities in the procurement of IRIS scanning systems, according to sources.
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has reportedly placed a travel restriction on Malik, preventing him from leaving the country until the investigation is complete.