On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the Chief Minister denied that Sindh Home Minister Manzoor Wasan was removed. Speculations resulting from the minister’s request for leave have led sources to claim that there was a possibility of an administrative shake-up — from the highest levels down to the police SHOs.
“Wassan has gone on a medical leave and will resume his job soon,” said the spokesperson. “He has not been removed and there will not be any reshuffling.”
However, sources said that it was after President Asif Ali Zardari expressed his concern over the law and order situation in Karachi during meetings and briefings on Monday and Tuesday, that Wassan asked the chief minister for a month’s leave for medical reasons. The president was seriously concerned over the situation. When briefed about the police, he claimed that their performance had been very poor. He was also told that they had become extremely politicised. The adviser to the Sindh Home Minister, Sharfuddin Memon, confirmed that Wassan had been given permission by President Zardari to go on leave. “Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah will be taking care of things while the home minister is away,” said Memon.
The law-and-order situation in Karachi has deteriorated over the past few months and the home department has admitted as much. But the officials say that the home minister’s request is purely a personal decision and not linked with the meetings on the law and order situation in the city. Wassan is the second home minister to have served in Sindh during the current government’s tenure. When his predecessor Zulfiqar Mirza went on leave, his portfolio was managed by the chief minister.
Sources in the police said that there was a possibility that the Inspector General Sindh Mushtaq Shah could become a casualty if an administrative shakeup did take place and then the Additional Inspector General Akhtar Hussain Gorchani could become IG Sindh by default. However, no official summary was sent to the capital regarding any change in the Sindh police department as yet.
Wassan, who was in Hyderabad on Wednesday, contradicted the speculations about the change of face in the home ministry and claimed that he would resume the charge on his return from the United Kingdom. But betraying the certainty in his assertion, he said, “I will accept any other responsibility that the party gives me. I am not stubborn.”
He was talking to the media at the residence of the late Sindhi singer Master Manzoor after offering condolences to the family. Like his predecessor, Zulfiqar Mirza, Wassan’s nine-month long stint is still to control that spiral.
Also like Mirza, he is going on leave at a time when the law and order has plunged to the level which existed before the suo motu notice taken by the Supreme Court last year.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 26th, 2012.