LAHORE      -    The removal of Dr Saeed Elahi from the slot of Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS) chairman and appointment of ruling party leader Ibrarul Haq in his place instead has generated a controversy that could lead to a legal battle.

As per the reports, President Dr Arif Alvi has signed a summary for the appointment of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) stalwart as head of a leading humanitarian organization of the country.

Ibrarul Haq, a popular singer, has lost to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal in the last two elections.

Three-year tenure of the current chairman is set to expire on March 9, 2020, and his premature termination may invite a legal battle, like the sitting government had to face in a number of similar cases in recent months. Insiders say that things had been cooking up for quite some time as the government wanted to ‘accommodate’ Ibrar after he lost the last general election.

“However, PRCS’s move of setting up first aid camps and parking ambulances for the participants of JUI-F’s Azadi March didn’t go well with the ruling party,” they said.

“The summary has been approved by the competent authority in principle and a notification in this regard is likely to be issued early next week,” the sources added.

Ibrarul Haq is currently serving as chairman of the Sahara for Life Trust, a charitable non-governmental organisation, which also runs a medical college and a hospital.

Ibrar’s appointment may also give rise to conflict of interests as both Sahara for Life Trust and the PRCS are humanitarian organisations and working for the similar objectives.

“In such a scenario, the confidence of the international donors will be shaken and the country’s leading humanitarian organisation – PRCS – may not only suffer financially, but its reputation may also receive a dent,” said an official at PRCS who wanted not to be named. When contacted, Dr Saeed Elahi termed the move illegal, unconstitutional and based on political victimization.

“I was appointed to a tenure post as per constitution of the PRCS, and any premature termination of the contract is totally illegal and unconstitutional,” he said, and added, “PRCS is a humanitarian organisation working for the welfare of the vulnerable segments of the society and using such an institution for political motives will shake the confidence of the international donors, resulting in irreparable loss to the organisation set up by Father of the Nation Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.”

He further said, “Any such move by the government will be a sheer violation of the PRCS fundamental principles of ‘Independence’, ‘Neutrality’ and ‘Impartiality’.” Dr Elahi said he had not been officially informed about the development so far, adding that he will definitely challenge any such move in the court of law.

Recently, Mushtaq Sukhera, a tax ombudsman, was removed prematurely, but was later reinstated on the orders of Islamabad High Court. Similarly, Muhammad Hanif, PRCS Punjab chairman, was also removed but the decision was declared illegal and unlawful by the Lahore High Court.