Tariq Malik: Textbook Case of former PML-N Government’s Harassment of Govt Servants

Former NADRA Chairman, Tariq Malik, suffered for over five years at the hands of the vindictive ministers of the former PML-N government. His ordeal is a striking case study of how the state persecutes officials that fall out of favor

Tariq Malik

Tariq Malik, a former government servant, and a distinguished global achiever has made Pakistan proud with his impressive accomplishment and world-wide recognition. In the United States, Tariq ranks amongst the top 100 digital influencers, and he also serves as a part of the 10-member Technical Expert Group. He is also the Chief Technical Adviser at the United Nations.

However, it is such a pity that the nation has failed to commend and celebrate his achievements. In his own country, he was regarded as a proclaimed offender, his CNIC card was blocked, and his name was added to the Exit Control List (ECL).

Tariq Malik was forced to tolerate the probing of investigation agencies and courts for five years on the basis of false charges, orchestrated by a government that he no longer held favor with.

Fallen out of Favor

Tariq Malik, a world-renowned technical expert, is a textbook case of how a government treats an individual who has fallen out of favor. Malik served multiple executive positions in the National Data & Registration Authority (NADRA) during the period 2008 to 2014, working his way up to the position of the NADRA Chairman.

In December 2013, the PML-N government fired him after he initiated the verification of the thumb impressions of the voters, as ordered by the Election Commission of Pakistan. News reports reveal that a senior minister of the Nawaz Sharif-led government had also collaborated against him.

Malik decided to travel with a UN diplomatic passport, and before arriving in Pakistan, he obtained a protective bail from the Islamabad High Court.

Tariq Malik decided to challenge the unceremonial manner in which he was fired from his post despite the two years left in his term. In a powerful judgment, the Islamabad High Court regarded it as a “case of victimization”, and Malik was restored at his position.

His troubles were only about to start, as days after the verdict, members of his family began receiving threats, forcing Tariq to hand in his resignation in January 2014. At that time, Imran Khan, then opposition leader, was extremely vocal about the PML-N government’s harassment of government employees.

PML-N’s Vendetta against Tariq

Tariq moved to the United States and resume working with his former IT firm, however, his suffering certainly did not come to an end. The PML-N government was out with a vendetta to make an example out of Malik. He was booked under an FIR, registered with the FIA, which accused him of hiding his Canadian citizenship upon applying for the National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistanis (NICOP), which was before 2008.

It is important to note that having a dual-nationality does not constitute as grounds to be disqualified from government service in Pakistan, nor does a data entry operator require this information while examining a NICOP application.

Malik was not informed about the FIR registered against him, and in 2018, he discovered it after his NICOP expired and he submitted an application for reissuance. When he contacted NADRA, the organization he led for multiple years, the authorities informed him that his NICOP had been blocked back in 2014, and he was declared as a Proclaimed Offender (PO).

He was informed that he had been booked under an FIR and a court proceeding was held, which he could not attend. The “state” then complained against him. It is important to note that Tariq had obtained clearance from the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) for his position at NADRA.

Naya Pakistan: Persecution Continues

Malik made the terribly unwise decision of returning to Pakistan for his court appearance. History is ripe with stories of the struggles that ensure when officials fall out of power. In 2018, he returned to Pakistan as Imran Khan secured the government, forced by the memories of an ailing father he wanted to visit.

Despite the new government, Tariq was faced with disturbing events. He was placed on the Exit Control List, and upon his arrival at the Pakistani Embassy in Washington to obtain a visa on his Canadian passport, he was refused a visa on grounds of being a proclaimed offender. Malik penned multiple letters to the Ministry of Interior and the Foreign Office, which went unanswered.

Read more: PAC Subcommittee Proposes ISI & MI clearance for CNIC & Passports

As a last resort, Malik decided to travel with a UN diplomatic passport, and before arriving in Pakistan, he obtained a protective bail from the Islamabad High Court. He presented himself in court immediately and managed to secure his bail.

His case was cleared in the district court, however, the matter remained unsettled. Last Friday, Tariq was informed that the case has been ruled in his favor, and the FIA finally admitted that he did not commit any punishable offense.

Sharing his ordeal with media, Tariq summed up his assessment of the judicial system based on his experience of being pinned down for crimes he did not commit with an important question, “I have been vindicated once again but the process of obtaining justice is a punishment in Pakistan. Why is there no punishment for the complainant who framed frivolous and false charges, which are proved wrong in a court of law?”