On Friday, the Office of Veteran Affairs released a statement announcing that Peter O’Rourke will take on the position as the VA’s permanent chief of staff “effective immediately.” The change in guard follows reports that the former chief of staff, Vivieca Wright Simpson, fabricated an email so that the VA chief David Shulkin’s wife, Merle Bari, could accompany him on a trip Europe—and be reimbursed by the government.

“Effective immediately, VA Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Executive Director Peter O’Rourke will serve as VA’s permanent chief of staff, ensuring that the department works closely with the White House going forward,” the statement said. “He will continue to serve as OAWP executive director until a successor is named.”

According to Politico and USA Today, the top aide “retired.” Recall, on Wednesday a report released by the Veteran Affairs Office of Inspector General found that Vivieca Wright Simpson altered an email, and that Shulkin improperly accepted Wimbledon tickets in 2017.

The report incited one Republican lawmaker to question Shulkin’s moral authority.

“He’s really part of the culture of corruption that too often defines this organization. I just don’t think that he has the moral authority to clean it up,” Colorado Republican Mike Coffman said in a statement.

Yet CNN reports that Shulkin’s aide might be the only one to be implicated by the IG allegations. Shulkin told CNN on Friday that he wasn’t asked to resign, following a meeting he reportedly had with Chief of Staff John Kelly.

“I’m not going to let the politics of what’s going on distract me from doing the job that I came to Washington to do,” Shulkin told CNN on Friday.

Appointment of DRAP chief sparks legal reaction

Islamabad : Justice Amer Farooq of the Islamabad High Court has taken strict note of a writ petition filed by Noor Muhammad Mahar (through senior advocate Ali Nawaz Kharal) against the interim appointment of Sheikh Akhtar Hussain as acting chief executive office (CEO) of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP).

The development comes in the wake of the fact that Sheikh Akhtar was declared dead in two corruption references of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the years 2001 and 2004. Moreover, two inquiries are pending against him in NAB and FIA on account of accumulation of assets beyond means.

Akhtar is a BS 19 officer of DARP and has superseded BPS 20 and 21 officers in DRAP and the Ministry of Health to occupy the top slot at DRAP. His appointment as acting CEO is allegedly against the statutory requirements prescribed under the law. He was shielded in the trial of two NAB references on account of incorrect entry in references showing him as dead person, while he was actually serving on a BPS 17 post in the Ministry of Health. Furthermore, his involvement in accumulating assets beyond known sources of his income, as pointed out by the Director Intelligence (NAB), is also allegedly sufficient to disqualify his appointment.

According to reports, Akhtar Hussain is now allegedly victimising honest officers in DRAP; on February 14, 2018, Dr. Roohi Bano Obaid, deputy director of the Central Drug Laboratory, Karachi, was shown the door with effect from January 30, 2018 as she is known to have played a key role in highlighting the corrupt practices allegedly prevalent in DRAP. Efforts are also allegedly being made to get rid of Dr. Obaid Ali (husband of Roohi Obaid), Federal Drug Inspector, Sindh, who wrote a letter (on February 13, 2018) to the Supreme Court of Pakistan on exorbitant medicine and transfer pricing by pharmaceutical companies in connivance with DRAP officials. Dr. Obaid is a trainer of the World Health Organisation for 21 countries and is qualified from Harvard University, USA. Even though the predecessor of Akhtar Hussain retired on January 28, 2018, and it was mandatory to advertise the post of CEO of DRAP in newspapers, no such advertisement has appeared even after the 20 days of retirement of Aslam Afghani.