Sindh police chief a force to be reckoned with

KARACHI: Among other things, 2017 witnessed a power struggle between the Sindh government and Inspector-General (IG) of Police Allah Dino Khawaja, leaving the police and the people of Sindh in quite a dilemma.

Though the court has ordered that the IG continue serving till the end of his tenure, the provincial government is trying its utmost to bring in a new police chief in Sindh. Khawaja was appointed in March, 2016, succeeding Ghulam Hyder Jamali, whose removal was ordered by the court over bungling of official funds and massive irregularities in police appointments.

The provincial government’s decision to appoint Khawaja as the new police chief was welcomed as he was known for his integrity and would roam the streets in Dadu as a milkman to weed out corrupt policemen in the 1990s. The tug of war between the government and IG Khawaja started when he began appointing officers based solely on merit and refused to succumb to political pressure.

IG to introduce fixed tenure for police officials

IG Khawaja attempted to set a new precedent, introducing reforms and getting rid of corruption at police stations. Official sources privy to the development told The Express Tribune that the IG got into trouble with the government when he refused to oblige to an influential sugar mill owner on the issue of sugar cane farmers’ protest. Reports from other quarters suggest that given the upcoming general elections, Pakistan Peoples Party government is looking to replace IG Khawaja with a party-friendly individual.

A war of words between the government ministers and the IG compelled Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah to send Khawaja on forced leave on December 19, 2016. However, after immense pressure from civil society and certain members of the establishment who wanted the IG to continue, Shah retracted his decision and the IG resumed work on January 2, 2017.

However, tensions only increased and in the first week of April, the government surrendered his services to the federal government, recommending names of other police officers for the post. “After the 18th Amendment, it is our prerogative to appoint a police chief in the province,” Home Minister Sohail Anwar Siyal said, adding that the law and order situation in the province was better before IG Khawaja had taken charge.

Sindh to approach Centre about appointing new IG

The decision to remove the IG created hue and cry in the media and civil society decided to approach the Sindh High Court (SHC) against the government’s decision. On April 3, the court suspended the notification for IG Khawaja’s removal, ordering him to immediately resume his duties till the final order. In reaction to the court’s order, Siyal sacked and transferred all the police officers appointed by the IG and replaced them with his own people.

Siyal took control of all police affairs and convened several meetings without notifying the police chief. IG Khawaja, on the other hand, continued as a toothless officer till the SHC gave a decision on September 7, authorising the IG to run the show.  The court declared all postings and transfers carried out by the home minister illegal and asked the IG to continue working.

When all attempts to remove IG Khawaja failed, the government approached the court with another idea. “The IG is a junior officer of Grade-21 working on a senior post on Own Pay Scale (OPS), which is in violation of Supreme Court’s (SC) decision against OPS so we want to appoint another officer purely on merit,” Advocate-General Barrister Zamir Ghumro said, adding that the SC has already ordered the government to remove OPS officers and they have removed dozens of junior officers.

AD Khawaja is here to stay

“We have informed the SHC that IG Khawaja is the only officer working on OPS in Sindh so we want to replace him with a senior officer,” Ghumro said. “The court has asked us to follow the proper procedure so we are doing it,” he added. On December 30, the Sindh Cabinet again decided to remove IG Khawaja and recommended three other names, Sardar Abdul Majeed Dasti, Ghulam Qadir Thebo and Motorway Police Inspector General Kaleem Imam, suggesting that one of them be appointed the new IG.

“We have sent three different choices with Sardar Abdul Majeed Dasti as the top candidate to the federal government and I hope the establishment division will soon issue a notification,” Ghumro concluded.

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