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Did CM Punjab order the transfer of DPO Gondal?

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News Analysis |

The National Counterterrorism Authority (NACTA) chief Maher Khaliq Dad Lak on Wednesday submitted a police inquiry report which concluded that orders for the transfer of former Pakpattan district police officer (DPO) Rizwan Gondal in the middle of the night came from the chief minister’s office.

The Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar headed the three-member bench—which heard a Suo Motu case pertaining to controversial and widely-publicized transfer of Pakpattan DPO Rizwan Gondal. He directed the NACTA chief to provide the copy of the report to Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar, Ahsan Jameel Gujjar and Sindh Inspector General (IG) Kaleem Imam.

Amid the huge media uproar and negative reporting against the Punjab police, IG issued a statement and denied the damaging allegations.

Moreover, the court ordered all the stakeholders to submit their reply in the next three days. The report says that WhatsApp exchange record between DPO Gondal and Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Azeem Arshad shows that the former was asked to visit Maneka’s dera to settle the matter. Gujjar had reprimanded the DPO and had said   “All will suffer” if such an incident occurred again.

Gujjar, on Tuesday, offered an unconditional apology to the top court for his involvement in official matters. Gujjar, who was an ‘unofficial guardian’ of Maneka’s children had gone to the CM House and allegedly colluded with him to reprimand the DPO. The DPO had alleged that Gujjar accompanied the CM Punjab during a meeting and asked him why he had not gone to Manika’s residence to offer apologies despite many reminders.

Read more: Why DPO Gondal had to be transferred at 1 am: asks…

The RPO verified the same during cross-examination. “Ahsan Jameel [Gujjar], during the cross-examination, has also partly accepted both statements with a little variation of words, but he reiterates that the intent was to sensitize and to find a solution,” the report added.

The report notes that Gujjar’s comments were derogatory and insulting, however, it did comment if it was criminal intimidation or not. Secondly, it is believed that Gujjar was following the matter in the personal capacity and warned the police to not interfere in their affairs, the report added.

PTI promised to replicate model adopted in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and came to power under an impression to change the system and fight status quo. 

The former Inspector General (IG) of Punjab Police Kaleem Imam had presented a completely different account, which miffed the SC. Amid the huge media uproar and negative reporting against the Punjab police, IG issued a statement and denied the damaging allegations. In a tweet, Punjab Police clarified that “DPO Gondal was transferred for displaying conduct unbecoming of a police officer and misreporting facts.”

“[IG] had not transferred Gondal under any “pressure”; rather, the police officer had been transferred because of repeatedly lying about an altercation with a citizen.” On the contrary, Lak said in his report that if this was to be accepted then “common sense demands that inquiry order and transfer orders should have been issued simultaneously, which is not the case as orders were issued on Aug 27 at 1 am (morning) after a delay of two days.”

Read more: DPO Rizwan Gondal pays the price for not apologizing to mighty…

The detailed examination proves that orders of the transferring Ex-DPO Pakpattan at an odd time on August 27 came from the CM Office. Furthermore, the court grilled the IG and Ahsan Gujjar over their behavior most of all. The timing of the incident and the political coercion to subvert the facts particularly angered the top judge. On August 30, the CJP took a Suo Motu notice of DPO Pakpattan’s transfer and summoned all the parties involved in the case.

Maneka family under the Spotlight

The Maneka family came under a huge backlash following the speculation on Pakistan’s electronic media that on August 28, the DPO of Pakpattan was allegedly transferred at the behest of Maneka family.

This episode has damaged the reputation of CM Buzdar for not standing up against the powerful, after being portrayed as the symbol of change.

On August 23, the DPO along with his police team had briefly chased Khawar’s car after he did not stop, when signaled by the police. He pulled over Khawar Maneka along with his daughter at mid-night—which led to an exchange of verbal arguments. It is believed that Maneka started abusing police officials instead of obeying the law.

Political coercion?

Some senior political analysts and journalists claimed that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s wife had used her influence and ordered the CM Punjab Usman Buzdar to transfer the DPO over an altercation. As the case proceeded, it increasingly looked like that PTI’s Punjab government used its political clout to transfer the DPO. It is the glaring misuse of power and a violation of the PTI’s election manifesto.

Read more: Pakpattan Incident: Former IGP Punjab submits an “expected” report to the…

In its campaign trail, PTI promised to uphold the rule of law and free the Punjab police of political pressure. The unfavorable verdict can create serious hurdles for PTI government especially in the upcoming by-polls. The PTI had promised to replicate model adopted in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and came to power under an impression to change the system and fight status quo.

PM Khan countlessly spoke against the Punjab Police and raised slogans against its operations. Even, in his speeches after winning the elections, he promised to free Punjab police from political coercion and depoliticize the bureaucracy, including the police service.

Read more: CJP takes notices of DPO Rizwan Gondal’s removal

This episode has damaged the reputation of CM Buzdar for not standing up against the powerful, after being portrayed as the symbol of change. It was his first test and he failed miserably. It’s a bad beginning and will raise serious questions about the PTI’s dream of good governance and rule of law.