ISLAMABAD: The controversy surrounding the approval of controversial bills reached new heights on Tuesday after a purported conversation surfaced, in which President Arif Alvi admitted to facing pressure from his party, sources revealed.
The conversation, said to be between President Alvi and Secretary Waqar Ahmed, took place prior to the president’s tweet in which he had not signed the Official Secrets Act and Army Act amendments.
Alvi’s tweet had unleashed a wave of shock within the corridors of power after he accused his own staff of insubordination and undermining his authority, resulting in the removal of Secretary Waqar Ahmed from his post.
However, sources on Tuesday said that in a conversation President Alvi privately confessed to his secretary that he was well aware that the latter had no involvement in the bill approval process, but he was facing immense pressure from his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
According to insiders, the files sent by the secretary to the president were not returned. On Sunday, at 1:45 pm, President Arif Alvi tweeted expressing reservations about the approval of the bills.Later, the ‘internal wing’ of the President House went ahead with the process and sent both bills to the Prime Minister Office at 5:00 pm.
The president had sent the bills in a sealed envelope from his chamber to the PM Office.
Official ‘refuses’ to work with Alvi
Furthermore, in a significant shift, a government official chosen by President Alvi to replace Secretary Waqar Ahmed has refused to take up the position. Humaira Ahmad, a grade-22 DMG officer and federal Secretary of the national heritage and culture division, has voiced her concerns and expressed her unwillingness to be involved in any controversial process amid the current situation.
Now, the caretaker government is scrambling to find a suitable replacement, considering other options.
According to sources, the names of three grade-22 officers will be submitted to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) by the caretaker government. The ECP will then appoint three officers, out of which President Alvi will be able to choose one for the vacant position.
It is worth noting that the caretaker government lacks the authority to make appointments or transfers without the ECP’s approval.
Waqar Ahmed voices concerns
On the other hand, in a letter to the president, Waqar Ahmed voiced his concerns about his forced resignation and the allegations. He stated that the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Bill was received on August 2 and sent to the president on August 3. President Alvi had a ten-day window to provide advice on the bill until August 11.
In a letter written to the president, Ahmed said the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Bill was received on August 2 and sent to the president on August 3. President Alvi, he added, had the 10-day time to advise on the bill till August 11.“The Honourable President neither assented to the bill nor gave a written decision for returning the bill for reconsideration by the Parliament. The said file has not been returned to the Office of Secretary to date, ie, 21.08-2023,” the letter stated.Meanwhile, the Official Secrets (Amendment) Bill was received on August 8 and was moved to the president’s office on August 9.
“It was clearly stated in the Note that the Prime Minister’s advice was received on 08-08-2023 and time of 10 days will be completed on 17.08.2023 (Thursday),” the letter also stated.
However, the letter added that the president neither assented to the bill nor gave a written decision for returning the bill for reconsideration by the Parliament. The secretary further said he “neither delayed the abovementioned two bills nor committed any irregularity or negligence.” He added that the files of the bills are still lying with the President’s Office as of Monday (August 21).
He said the president’s decision for the surrender of his services is not based on justice.“I request that the Honourable President may kindly order an inquiry by the FIA (Federal Investigation Agency) or any other agency to probe the facts and fix the responsibility for any lapse if committed by any officer or official,” he maintained.