Professional Journey of Tariq Malik
Tariq Malik, the current Technical Advisor of the World Bank, specializes in providing guidance to countries in the realms of Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI), Digital ID, and Identification for Development (ID4D Program).
Before assuming his role at the World Bank, Malik held the position of Chairman of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) twice, with his second term ending on June 13, 2023. His departure was attributed to concerns over political polarization and instability.
Prior to his leadership at NADRA, Tariq Malik served as the Chief Technical Advisor in the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). During his tenure, he offered counsel to member states on Digital Governance and Legal ID, aligning strategies with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Key Moments in Tariq Malik's Career
Tariq Malik gained international attention with his impactful resignation addressed to then Prime Minister of Pakistan, Shehbaz Sharif, on June 13, a move that reverberated globally.
His initial prominence came when he took a stand on the opposition’s request for validation of the 2013 Pakistani general election. Tariq asserted that utilizing the Biometric System for thumb impression verification could establish the fairness of the elections. Subsequently, he faced unjust dismissal by the government led by Nawaz Sharif for his actions. However, the Islamabad High Court promptly reinstated him within a few hours, showcasing the turbulence surrounding his commitment to electoral integrity.
Educational and Training Background of Tariq Malik
Tariq Malik is a highly educated professional with a diverse academic background. He holds master’s degrees in International Management from Heidelberg, Germany, and Computer Science from Quaid-i-Azam University. His foundational education includes a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Statistics from the University of Punjab.
In addition to his formal education, Tariq received specialized training at the Harvard Kennedy School. Further enhancing his skill set, he earned a diploma in project management from Stanford University. This well-rounded education and training have contributed to his multifaceted expertise in various domains.
Chronology of Tariq Malik's Professional Roles
Tariq Malik has held a series of influential positions throughout his career, showcasing his expertise and commitment in various capacities:
Chairman of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) from June 2021 to June 2023.
Chief Technical Advisor at the United Nations Development Program from January 2017 to August 2021.
Senior Technical Consultant at the World Bank from March 2016 to February 2017.
Senior Industry Consultant, Government Systems, from May 2014 to February 2016.
Chairman of NADRA from 2012 to 2014.
Deputy Chairman/Head of Technology at NADRA from 2008 to 2012.
Deputy Chief Information Officer in Wayne County, Michigan, during the Ed McNamar and Robert Ficano Administrations for over 10 years (1998-2008).
Senior Consultant in Information Systems for the government of Bahrain, contributing to his rich and diverse professional background.
Recognition and Influence in Digital Governance
Tariq Malik’s significant contributions to digital governance have earned him accolades and acknowledgment on a global scale:
Acknowledged as one of the “World’s 100 Most Influential People in Digital Government” by the European think tank, “Apolitical”.
Named among the “Top 100 Digital Influencers in the Digital Community” by One World Identity, a New York-based independent identity research and strategy think tank specializing in cybersecurity, digital commerce, and risk management.
Before joining the World Bank, Tariq Malik played a pivotal role in assisting governments to optimize the utilization of Big Data and advanced data analytics while working with Teradata Inc. in the USA, showcasing his expertise in harnessing technological advancements for governmental effectiveness.
Challenges Faced during Tariq Malik's First Term at NADRA
During his initial tenure as the Chairperson of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), Tariq Malik faced a critical moment in Pakistan’s political landscape:
In response to the opposition’s demand to validate the fairness of the 2013 Pakistani general elections, Tariq Malik asserted that thumb impression verification through the Biometric System could indeed determine the elections’ legitimacy.
A source close to NADRA’s office revealed a tense situation involving Rana Sanaullah, who served as Home Minister and later as Minister of Law & Justice. Allegedly, Sanaullah urged Tariq to compromise on the thumb impressions’ verification and provide a favorable report for the PML-N candidate.
Reportedly, Tariq Malik resisted this pressure, standing firmly on principles of honesty and integrity. In the face of potential consequences, he refused to compromise on the verification process, showcasing his commitment to transparency and electoral integrity.
Tariq Malik's Resilience in the Face of Adversity
During a tumultuous period in his career, Tariq Malik demonstrated resilience and faced challenges with unwavering determination:
Following his refusal to compromise on the thumb impressions’ verification, Tariq Malik was abruptly terminated from his position by Nawaz Sharif and his government.
However, the Islamabad High Court swiftly intervened and reinstated him as Chairman of NADRA, highlighting the judiciary’s recognition of the unjust nature of his termination.
Despite his reinstatement, Tariq Malik resigned later, citing threats to himself and his family. He alleged that the threats were a consequence of his commitment to verifying the election process.
In a significant judgment, the Superior Court of Pakistan issued a charge sheet against the government for intimidating, victimizing, harassing, and threatening Tariq Malik.
Some writers and analysts characterized this government action as ‘e-bullying,’ emphasizing the use of electronic means to exert pressure and intimidation in this high-stakes political scenario.
Tariq Malik's Impactful Contributions to Biometrics and Data Analytics
Tariq Malik’s innovative work in biometrics and data analytics has left a lasting mark on various nations and international organizations:
Tariq Malik spearheaded the implementation of a multi-biometric system, resulting in the registration of over 121 million citizens with their associated biometric attributes.
CNN recognized his efforts, labeling him a ‘Man on a Mission,’ particularly noting his identification of 3.5 million tax evaders in Pakistan using data analytics combined with biometrics.
His leadership extended beyond Pakistan, as he led similar projects and development interventions in countries such as the USA, Kenya, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Russia, Malawi, and Tanzania.
Tariq Malik played a crucial role in assisting various United Nations institutions (UNHCR, ICAO, UNDP) and the World Bank (Poverty Score Card, BISP, Disaster Management, and ID Ecosystem) to achieve development goals with transparency.
In his earlier role as Deputy CIO in Wayne County, State of Michigan, he was instrumental in designing, developing, and implementing an online Property Tax System, showcasing his proficiency in leveraging technology for efficient governance.
Tariq Malik's Impact on Government Service Delivery and Recognitions
Throughout his distinguished career, Tariq Malik has been a catalyst for improving service delivery through innovative technologies, earning him numerous national and international awards:
His results-driven achievements garnered him various accolades, including the prestigious ‘Star of Excellence’ (Sitara-e-Imtiaz) in 2013, the highest technology award conferred by the State of Pakistan. This recognition acknowledged his exceptional use of technology to enhance governance.
In 2012, Tariq Malik was honored with Teradata’s national ‘CIO of the Year’ award, a testament to his outstanding contributions in the field of information technology.
His international recognition includes the ‘Outstanding Achievement Award’ at the 2009 ID World International Congress in Italy. This award celebrated his role as an international leader in biometrics.
Tariq Malik’s expertise and insights extend to publications like Forbes, where his articles have been featured.
Despite his notable achievements, he resigned from his position as Chairman of NADRA on June 13, 2023, citing political instability as the reason for his departure.