Islamabad: Pakistan government on Tuesday sacked Chairman of National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) Tariq Malik, who was involved in verification process of votes cast in some of the constituencies in the May 11 general elections.
"Contract of Chairman NADRA Tariq Malik has been cancelled. DG NADRA Brigadier (retd) Zahid Hussain has been appointed as acting chairman," state-run PTV World reported.
Malik was scheduled to give briefing to the new Chief Election Commissioner Justice Nasir ul Mulk on the process of recounting of votes today.
He challenged his removal in the Islamabad High Court, media reports said.
Malik had recently said that magnetic ink was not used in two constituencies and hence thousands of votes could not be verified.
NADRA had last month received the first case from Punjab which requires verification of thumb impressions taken during the polling on May 11.
The case pertains to the NA-118 constituency of Lahore where PML-N candidate Muhammad Riaz Malik was declared winner in the May general elections and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf?s candidate Hamid Zaman the runner-up.
However, Zaman accused Malik of rigging the elections in collusion with the government machinery, police, presiding officers and polling agents.
A report in The News daily today had 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 the NADRA Chairman made it clear that his post demanded that he should issue verified certificates of thumb impressions by keeping in view all facts and with honesty and impartiality. The influential person told him that he should be ready to quit his post."
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf spokesperson Shireen Mazari strongly condemned the sacking of Malik by the government.
Mazari claimed that Malik was being penalised for exposing electoral fraud through NADRA data, especially thumb print verification.
"This action was yet another proof that there had been planned mass rigging in the 2013 General Election and post-elections, there was an equally large scale official cover up," she said in a statement.
She said the party has been facing "deliberate delays and hurdles" in its petitions for thumb print verification by NADRA in the Punjab especially after rigging exposes in Sindh.
"The very manner of the sacking - in the dark of night - has made it evident that there was mala fide intent of covering up rigging, behind the action," Mazari added.
"The sacking of Tariq Malik has sent a clear warning to all honest public servants that either they fall in line with corrupt practices or suffer the consequences," she said.