Sindh’s top cop sent on ‘forced leave’

IGP Allah Dino Khawaja sent on leave due to his reported differences with the Murad Ali Shah administration


Faraz Khan December 20, 2016
A D Khawaja. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: The Sindh government has sent the provincial police chief on ‘forced leave’ due to his reported differences with the Murad Ali Shah administration primarily over postings and transfers in the police department.

IGP Allah Dino Khawaja was sent on leave on Monday, days before PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari’s homecoming after 18 months of ‘self-imposed exile’ in London and Dubai.

A notification issued by the Services, General Administration and Coordination Department simply says that AD Khawaja “is granted 12-day casual leave with effect from Dec 19 to Dec 30 on private affairs and three-day leave ex-Pakistan to visit the UAE on affairs with effect from Dec 31.

However, official sources say Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah took the decision after differences emerged between his administration and Khawaja over multiple issues related to recruitment, appointments and transfer and postings in the Sindh police.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior police official told The Express Tribune that like his predecessor, Iqbal Mehmood, IGP Khawaja initially took the Sindh government into confidence over transfers and postings of police officials.

“But for the last few months, he has been ordering transfers and postings, especially of Grade-19 officers, at his own discretion while ignoring the Sindh government. This resulted in a dispute,” he said.

Another officer said there were some other reasons too. “The appointment of District Malir’s former SSP Rao Anwar and a recent dispute between IGP Khawaja and one of Zardari’s close aides – businessman Anwar Majeed – after a police raid are the major reasons.”

He said Chief Minister Shah initially supported IGP Khawaja but after a meeting held in Dubai under the chair of Zardari, but he withdrew his support as the PPP leadership was not ready to keep Khawaja in the saddle.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had approved Khawaja’s appointment as IG Sindh in March this year after Ghulam Haider Jamali’s removal. It is learnt that the federal government also has intervened in the matter, demanding that Khawaja may not be removed from his post. “Not the entire federal government is against the removal of Khawaja but a senior government officer who is a batch-mate of Khawaja and is close to the prime minister has attempted to intervene,” said a source in the Sindh government.

Commenting on the leave while talking to media in Karachi, Sindh Chief Minister’s adviser Maula Bux Chandio said it was a routine matter.

“The IG has gone on leave. Transfers and postings are a routine matter,” he said, adding that officials in Sindh have been appointed on merit.  “There is no political interference. All allegations of a dispute between IGP Khawaja and the provincial government are baseless,” he said.

Khawaja likely to be replaced

In the absence of Khawaja, AIG Karachi Mushtaq Mahar has been given the additional charge of IGP Sindh. However, there are chances that Khawaja will be replaced while on leave.

The government is considering four officers for the slot: former IGP Sindh Iqbal Mehmood, who is currently serving at the National Police Foundation; former AIG Karachi Ghulam Qadir Thebu, who is currently chairman of Sindh’s Anti-Corruption Department; Mushtaq Mahar, and Sardar Abdul Majeed Dasti, who has served as CCPO in Balochistan.

Sources say Dasti is the strongest contender as he has already served at various posts in the Sindh police. The federal government is unlikely to object to his appointment. More reshuffle in the police department are likely in the coming days.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 20th, 2016.

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