By Amina Jilani
When former president General Pervez Musharraf decided to embark upon his politically suicidal path in March 2007, the first step was the production of a reference against the Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry — a fatal move. The first item of the reference concerned the CJP’s son, Arsalan Iftikhar, a doctor, who since then has now come somewhat full circle.
Justice Chaudhry was charged with having influenced the upward mobility of his son’s career. In 1996, the son of a judge of the Balochistan High Court managed a ‘C’ grade in his intermediate examination. This being insufficient for him to gain admission to the Bolan Medical College, Quetta, the judge allegedly approached the Balochistan chief minister with the request that the son be admitted to the college, regardless of his grade and given a special or vacant seat. Apparently this was done.
Nine years later, in June 2005 (his father, by then on the Bench of the Supreme Court), the young doctor was appointed as a medical officer in Quetta’s Institute of Public Health. In July, a short time following this appointment (by this time Justice Chaudhry was chief justice of Pakistan) the Balochistan chief minister again allegedly came to the aid of Arsalan Iftikhar, ordering his promotion as a section officer in the health department.
According to the reference, in that same year, August 2005, the young man decided to redirect his career. A letter was sent by the interior ministry to the Balochistan chief secretary informing him that the FIA wished to acquire the services of Dr Iftikhar. By September 2005, the doctor had a job as an assistant director in the FIA. This was followed up in April 2006 by his promotion to the position of deputy director.
Then, Arsalan, as claimed the reference, decided he would prefer a career in the police service. So, the ministry of the interior acted again, allowing him to bypass the necessary competitive services examination and the commandant of the National Police Academy was instructed to take him and put him through a course of field training, usually exclusive to Police Service of Pakistan (PSP) officers, after which, he was scheduled to move over to the Punjab Police.
But it was not that simple. For the doctor to be admitted as a permanent employee of the PSP, an amendment would have to be made in the Police Service of Pakistan Rules, which required presidential assent, the reference alleged. The prime minister’s secretariat was requested to do the needful but apparently the desired amendment did not materialise. The reference claimed further that in October 2006, he was nominated as a non-PSP officer to attend a training course in Istanbul, interestingly enough on the subject of Combating International Terrorism and Organised crime, the only non-PSP and sole under training individual to do the course.
Well, if our press and Dr Iftikhar are to be believed, the young man has moved on considerably and is now involved in business. He has also done quite a bit of travelling — regularly to Europe, London and Monaco, that we know of. It would seem that he is either naïve or forgetful when it comes down to brass tacks. In his statement dated June 6, made in the Supreme Court, referring to his 2011 visit to London, he stated: “I do not know from whose credit card the rent of the flat, which I remotely remember was around 3,200 pounds sterling per week, was paid. Perhaps I stayed for four weeks…”