PPP gets PM Khan’s nod to replace IG Police before by-election

The federal government has given nod to the PPP’s government to replace the incumbent police chief, Dr. Kaleem Imam, before the crucial by-election PS-52 that is to be held ar Umerkot district. This reshuffle at major level is likely to influence the electoral results, opine independent sources.

IG

The federal cabinet has accorded approval to appointing Mushtaq Ahmed Mehar – one of the three names put forward by the Sindh government – as the new provincial inspector general of police. The other two names were Ghulam Qadir Thebo and Dr Kamran Fazal. The development came before a by-election which is to take place in Sindh. The PPP government has already accused the incumbent provincial chief of backing opposition parties in the province, a claim categorically rejected by Dr. Kaleem Imam.

According to the sources, through a circular, the federal cabinet notified the appointment of Railways IG Mehar – a Grade 22 officer – as the new IGP Sindh. Mehar is on the eleventh position on the Grade 22’s seniority list and is set to retire on March 3, 2025.

It has been learned that following Mehar’s appointment, outgoing Sindh IG Kaleem Imam has been designated as Inspector General Motorways Police.

Murtaza Wahab, adviser to the Sindh chief minister as well as the provincial government’s spokesperson, said the IGP seems to hold Umerkot SP Aijaz Ahmed Shaikh personal grudge.

Read More: Sindh Police beyond the Call of Duty: A pattern of possibilities and achievements

He said the provincial government has already asked the federal government for removal of IGP Imam. The PPP’s rivals want to use the Sindh top cop to influence the by-poll, he claimed, adding free and fair by-election can’t be held in the presence of the incumbent IG.

It is noteworthy that the police chief earlier on Feb 20 wrote a letter to the provincial election commissioner Sindh to transfer SP Shaikh to ensure transparency in the by-elections in PS-52 Umerkot district.

The by-election will be held in PS-52 Umerkot on March 17, according to the ECP schedule. The seat in question fell vacant after the death of former PPP MPA Syed Ali Mardan Shah on January 19.

PPP wants ‘submissive’ police chief?

Saeed Ghani, senior leader of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and provincial Information Minister, has also alleged that Dr. Imam is conspiring against the government with the help of opposition leaders.

Mr. Ghani maintained that the current IGP has become ‘controversial’ and should immediately resign from the post. Mr.Ghani went on saying that “the Sindh police has become a political party” while questioning “why are police officers leaking reports and visiting lawyers along with opposition politicians?

Read More: By-election in PS-52: Will PPP win it in the presence of IGP Kaleem Imam?

Sindh Secretary of Services Navid Ahmed Shaikh wrote a letter to the establishment division and requested to immediately replace the IGP Sindh. Mr. Shaikh outlined various ‘compelling reasons’ behind the provincial government’s decision. Dr. Imam is not only unwilling to cooperate with the provincial government but has also failed to control crime rate across the province, the letter read.

Contrary to what the provincial government is claiming, Dr. Imam wrote a letter to the provincial Chief Secretary (CS) in December, 2019, and explained an unwanted situation.  He drew the attention of the CS “to the judgement of the Honourable High Court of Sindh wherein, the Honourable Court in its judgement date 7th September 2017, at paras 101 (h) and 101 (i) ruled that the Inspector General must have independent control over insofar as postings and transfers are concerned, thus putting an end to all of external influence.

Subsequently the Honourable Supreme Court upheld the judgment and ruled that, ‘on the foregoing analysis, we affirm the impugned judgement by the learned High Court in particular with reference to the autonomy of command and independence of operation of the police force.”

It is pertinent to note that Sindh government transferred Allah Dino Khawaja (a.k.a A. D. Khawaja) back in 2017, but the decision was challenged by the civil society in the court.

The Sindh High Court and Supreme Court of Pakistan turned down the provincial government’s decision due to flimsy grounds on which the government based its case. The Sindh government was “unhappy” with him over several issues relating to the recruitment of constables and suspension of police officers. Besides, A.D. Khawaja was not willing to transfer and post ‘politically wanted’ police officers to some constituencies before by-elections.

Read More: Honor killing in Dadu: How Karo-Kari became cultural norm in Sindh?

Well-placed sources told GVS that the controversy broke out after the Sindh government transferred three senior police officials including Shikarpur’s Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Dr. Rizwan Ahmed.

The IGP was not happy and repeatedly conveyed to the CM that the decision should have been based upon ‘merit’, claim sources. Moreover, Dr. Imam had also asked the provincial government for initiating action against 10 to 12 senior police officers on charges of “serious misconduct” but no action was taken.

Retired police officers believe that the Sindh government wants total control over police department to maintain its ‘political strength’ across the province. “The provincial chief is always appointed on political grounds. But no police chief completely surrenders himself before the provincial government as no officer ever wants his credibility to be tarnished like that,” said a former police chief.

However, it is evident to note that electoral politics in rural areas of Sindh or any other province demands local politicians to have considerable control over police. Elected lawmakers in the Sindh or Punjab demand their respective provincial governments to appoint district police heads as per their choice.

The same political necessity did not allow the current government in Punjab to reform police. In the instant case, the PTI’s government looks willing to ‘cooperate’ with the provincial government to deal with an ‘unruly’ police officer.

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