ISLAMABAD - The Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination has given charge of the Drug Regulation Authority of Pakistan on a look after basis to a controversial official facing an investigation by the National Accountability Bureau.

Interestingly, NAB officials had declared the new DRAP Chief Executive Officer Dr Sheikh Akhtar Hussain as ‘dead’ in two corruption references against him in 2001 and 2004.

Sources told The Nation that the Health Ministry has given the charge of the post of grade-21 to Dr Hussain, a grade-19 officer, due to the alleged backing of the Health Minister.

They said that Director-General health Dr Asad Hafeez, a grade-21 officer, and four grade-20 officers, Shiekh Ansar Ahmed, Noor-ul-Saba, Amanullah and Azhar Ali, are also serving in the DRAP but the Ministry handed over the charge of the post to Dr Hussain.

The DARP chief appointment is the prerogative of the Federal government and not the Health Ministry or the Secretary Health, the sources said.

A notification issued by the Health Ministry said: “The competent authority has been pleased to assign the charge of the post of Chief Executive Officer, Drug Regulation Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) on a look after basis to Dr Sheikh Akhtar Hussain, Additional Director (RO-14), DRAP, to dispose of the day-to-day business from February 2, 2018 till posting of a regular incumbent of the post.”    

NAB Chairman Justice (Retd) Javed Iqbal had ordered an inquiry against the anti-graft body officials for declaring Dr Hussain as dead in corruption cases in the DRAP.

In a statement, the NAB said that the NAB chief took notice of the issue where NAB officials had declared DRAP official Dr Hussain dead in the references filed against him in 2001 and 2004. 

The NAB Chairman has ordered an inquiry against the officials for showing negligence in the case as the DRAP official was accused of financial embezzlement of Rs 51 million.

Four other co-accused in the similar reference had completed their punishment, however, Dr Hussain got himself declared dead in 2001 and 2004 to evade the sentence. 

The NAB chief has also ordered to complete the inquiry against Dr Hussain as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and Cabinet Division have initiated the inquiry against him. The case of a man who, according to the NAB’s record, died in 2001 but continued to hold three posts in the DRAP has also landed in the Islamabad High Court.

Two petitioners, Samiullah Durrani and Zaheer Afzal, have filed applications in all legal forums and relevant departments against Dr Hussain who was holding three different positions at DRAP. 

The IHC taking notice of the writ petitions had sought a report from the NAB, FIA, Health Ministry, the Establishment Division and the Cabinet Division.