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SC grills IG Punjab over political coercion in DPO Pakpattan case


News Analysis |

The Supreme Court of Pakistan, on Monday, began hearing a Suo Motu case pertaining to controversial and widely-publicized transfer of Pakpattan District Police Officer (DPO) Rizwan Gondal. Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar headed the three-member bench which heard the case. Amid media frenzy outside the court, Khawar Maneka[the former husband of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s wife] and his daughter refrained from making any public statement.

Earlier, On August 30, the CJP took Suo Motu notice of DPO Pakpattan’s transfer and summoned Maneka along with his son Ibrahim Maneka, DIG Shehzada Sultan, and Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar’s personal secretary and chief security officer. The SC also issued notices to the additional IG Punjab, regional police officer Sahiwal and Gondal to appear before the court.

It was alleged that DPO was directed to visit Khawar’s residence and tender an apology to him for pulling over his car. DPO refused to apologize in the meeting with CM Punjab which led to his transfer afterward

In court, CJP grilled the IG and Ahsan Gujjar the unofficial guardian of Bushra bibi’s children. He questioned the timing of the incident and the political coercion to subvert the facts to humiliate the police. CJP also reprimanded IG for issuing the verbal orders at midnight. He further appraised the court that he had to make a post-dated written order of the transfer and did not have the file with him.

PM Imran Khan also took notice of the incident and ordered the CM Punjab to submit an inquiry report into the matter. 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. Some senior political analysts and journalists claimed that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s wife used her influence and ordered the CM Punjab Usman Buzdar to transfer the DPO over an altercation.

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

Media speculated that on August 23, 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 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. The gossip mills in the twin-city kept discussing the circumstances surrounding the alleged political transfer.

It was alleged that DPO was directed to visit Khawar’s residence and tender an apology to him for pulling over his car. DPO refused to apologize in the meeting with CM Punjab which led to his transfer afterward. 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.”

The Punjab government, on the direction of PM Khan, has decided to form a Police Reform Commission under the leadership of Nasir Khan Durrani.

The statement further explained that Punjab Inspector General Dr. Syed Kaleem Imam had not transferred Gondal under any “pressure”; rather, the police officer had been transferred because of repeatedly lying about an altercation with a citizen.” In SC, IG Kaleem negated the impression that DPO was transferred on anyone’s instructions. IG claimed that DPO met the CM without seeking permission and misquoted the facts.

PTI government is facing a huge backlash over this transfer which apparently looks like a decision taken under political pressure. It is the glaring misuse of power and a violation of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) election manifesto and its campaign trail promises to uphold the rule of law and free the Punjab police of political pressure.

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

Imran spoke against the Punjab Police and raised slogans against its operations in the past. 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. This episode has even 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 in which he failed miserably.

PTI has committed to replicate the model adopted in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) by the former Inspector General of KP police. The Punjab government, on the direction of PM Khan, has decided to form a Police Reform Commission under the leadership of Nasir Khan Durrani.

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