PDLF chief urges PM to expose corruption in DRAP

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Islamabad : The President of the Pakistan Drug Lawyers Forum (PDLF) Noor Muhammad Mahar has invoked Prime Minister Imran Khan to expose the allegedly corrupt regime managing the affairs of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP), and to provide protection to watchdog institutions so that they can truly act as whistle-blowers in consonance with his announced vision to uproot corruption.
In a letter dated August 28, Noor Mahar has urged the PM to order an investigation against all allegedly corrupt officers of DRAP, particularly its acting Chief Executive Officer Sheikh Akhter Hussain, through a Joint Investigation Team. The PDLF chief, who filed numerous applications against corruption in DRAP during the PML(N) government’s tenure and proactively highlighted the issue in the print and electronic media, has accused the FIA of having given a clean chit to the CEO of DRAP in exchange for a huge bribe.
Noor Mahar has claimed having been silenced by FIA and DRAP, “which operated hand-in-glove and registered false, fabricated and mala fide cases” against him, nominating him in around 100 FIRs. They did so “not only to keep the applicant silent, but also to make an example of any person who dares highlight the culture of corruption in DRAP,” he has accused. FIA, he has alleged, would rather file FIRs against applicants complaining against DRAP, than DRAP itself. “Although we, as watchdogs, filed many applications highlighting corruption in DRAP, no government or Law Enforcement Agency (LEA) took any step against it,” he has maintained.
The PDLF chief has drawn the PM’s attention to the fact that the country’s medicine exports declined to half from US $220 million per year in 2010 after the promulgation of DRAP which, he has alleged, is involved in annual corruption to the tune of Rs. 30 billion at the cost of poor patients.
“All of DRAP, from top to bottom, is extremely corrupt. No government and LEA can check corruption in DRAP as its corrupt officers are extremely wealthy and know the price of everyone; they also know how to purchase the investigating officers of LEAs and top government officials,” Noor Mahar has stated in the letter. He has also pointed out towards annual corruption of Rs. 15 billion in DRAP in the GS1 Pakistan for Bar-Coding on packing of medicines. “GS1 Pakistan is ‘benami company’ of the acting CEO of DRAP along with a few other officers of the Authority,” Noor has alleged.
Noor has also provided a list of properties and businesses that he alleges belong to Sheikh Akhter Hussain; their cumulative worth comes to around US $1 billion. “He was named in NAB Corruption Reference No. 40/2001, along with four other accused officers of the then Ministry of Health. All accused were arrested, except Sh. Akhter Hussain. NAB declared Sh. Akhter dead in the corruption reference to save him from arrest. NAB filed another Corruption Reference No. 16/2004, and once again, all were arrested except Sh. Akhter Hussain. NAB again declared Sh. Akhter dead to save him from arrest,” the PDLF chief has alleged in the letter.
Noor Mahar has proposed six key measures for the PM to consider from the lens of austerity and accountability. These are: eradication of corruption from DRAP for the benefit of poor patients of Pakistan; initiation of an investigation against all corrupt officers of DRAP, especially Sh. Akhter Hussain, through a Joint Investigation Team; appointment of honest officers on all top positions of DRAP (CEO, Directors, Drug Inspectors, etc.); elimination of all corrupt officers from LEAs, who safeguard corrupt government officials and promote corruption; and to give protection to watchdogs so that they are not victimized by government departments and LEAs.
“If the government is helpless in eradicating corruption from DRAP, then as per the 18th Constitutional Amendment, you are requested to devolve DRAP and start medicine licensing, registration and pricing in the provinces, not only in the interest of poor patients but also to increase pharma industry and medicine exports,” Noor Mahar has proposed to the PM.
The letter is copied to the chief ministers of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, 16 ministers, five advisers to the PM, as well as the Opposition leaders of the Senate and the National Assembly, and the Director Generals of the Inter Services Intelligence, Intelligence Bureau, and Federal Investigation Agency.

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