How Naveed was edged out by a Zardari friend? By Rauf Klasra

ISLAMABAD: The unceremonious exit of Naveed Qamar from the Finance Ministry has led many to wonder what prompted his boss to remove him, though he even sacrificed his political mentor and old friend Makhdoom Amin Fahim in getting the job.

It may sound as a coincidence to many that he was shown the door and asked to revert back to his old Privatisation Ministry the day when he miserably failed to stop the defiant fertiliser importers and producers from raising prices of DAP from Rs 3,150 to Rs 5,500 per bag just when the sowing season was about to start.

This shocking price hike in DAP at critical time of sowing might frustrate the government plans to get a bumper wheat crop on the one hand and result in more poverty in rural areas on the other.

Meanwhile, a source said, the move came as a major shock to Naveed Qamar, as he was not expecting sacrifice of his ministry to an outsider Shaukat Tareen.

In his bid to become the finance minister, Naveed had even risked losing the next election, as he always used to get elected from his constituency with the blessing of Amin Fahim, who had turned hostile to Naveed Qamar after he betrayed him, someone whom Fahim had introduced in politics.

But before being asked to quit the ministry, Naveed Qamar had managed to get his father, Qamaruzzaman Shah, appointed at the lucrative post of the chairman of Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL).

First, Naveed was disappointed when Ishaq Dar was given this portfolio as a result of the power-sharing formula between the PPP and the PML-N. But soon luck smiled on Naveed, who found a good chance of taking the affairs of the Finance Ministry in his hands after Dar resigned.

Dar had brought his own team of financial experts like Secretary Farrukh Qayyum and former secretary finance Ghafoor Mirza in a bid to steer the country out of the financial mess. But, soon Dar had to resign after President Asif Zardari refused to honour his word on the issue of restoration of the judiciary in line with his public commitments given in the Murree declaration.

This dramatic opportunity enabled Naveed to reach the Finance Ministry. However, his powers were clipped when Zardari appointed a team of financial experts in the name of guiding the PPP on financial issues. Zardari had also brought his old buddy Dr Waqar Masood as secretary finance whom he had once picked from the financial institution, Bankers Equity, during the second tenure of the PPP government.

Dr Waqar Masood was even put in jail for some time after Asif Zardari was arrested. However, Dr Waqar Masood managed to survive and found a new life in civil bureaucracy when Gen Pervez Musharraf staged a military coup in 1999. Within days, Dr Waqar became the chief spokesman of the then-finance minister Shaukat Aziz.

Waqar Masood then saw a dramatic rise in the next eight years of Musharraf regime. His last assignment was special secretary to Shaukat Aziz.

He was transferred from his position after Yousuf Raza Gilani became the prime minister. But, he did not join the post of a federal secretary of Economic Affairs Division after serving as special secretary to the prime minister. Soon Dr Waqar used his old links within the Zardari House and finance secretary Farrukh Qayyum was removed and Dr Waqar was appointed in his place. At one stage, Dr Waqar was even handling billions of rupees taken out of the EOBI, pension funds of government banks and other institutions in the name of investments in the stock exchange.

Source: The News,10/10/2008

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