Islamabad: The Pakistan government on Tuesday sacked the chief of the national database but the upright official was reinstated hours later by the Islamabad High Court.
National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) chief Tariq Malik, involved in verifying the results of the May 11 polls in some constituencies, was sacked by the government for his "poor performance". He was replaced by Zahid Hussain, a retired brigadier.
Malik, who has a reputation as an upright official, challenged his sacking in the High Court, which set aside the official notification cancelling his contract.
Opposition parties ripped into the government, saying Malik was removed to cover up alleged irregularities in the general election that brought the PML-N party to power.
Malik was scheduled to brief new Chief Election Commissioner Nasir-ul-Mulk on the recounting of votes today.
He recently said magnetic ink was not used in two constituencies and hence, thousands of votes could not be verified.
NADRA last month began verifying thumb impressions of voters in a constituency of Punjab province, a stronghold of the PML-N.
The case pertained to a constituency in Lahore, where PML-N candidate Muhammad Riaz Malik was declared the winner in the general election and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf?s Hamid Zaman the runner-up. Zaman accused Malik of rigging the polls by using government machinery and police.
A report in The News daily today hinted at the possibility of Malik being removed. Quoting sources, it said an "influential person pressurised NADRA chairman Tariq Malik to issue verified certificates of thumb impressions in accordance with his wishes".
But Malik said his post demanded that he should issue verified certificates of thumb impressions. The "influential person told him that he should be ready to quit his post", the report said.
Khursheed Shah, the Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly, compared Malik`s sacking to the alleged rigging. The Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf claimed the sacking was "proof that there had been planned mass rigging" in the polls.