ISLAMABAD: As prospects of a prolonged confrontation loom large, the federal government is learnt to have decided to take on Sindh over its unilateral decision to remove provincial police chief AD Khawaja in violation of the rules of business.
The Centre apprehends that the move is likely to affect the on-going Karachi operation.
Well-placed government officials suggested that the federal government had decided to take a strong position to retain Khawaja as the IGP Sindh.
Sources close to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the PM had been briefed on the issue and he decided to reject the Sindh government’s decision to remove the provincial police chief.
“Mian sahib will put his foot down to stop them (Sindh government) from doing something that is illegal and beyond their authority,” said a source of the Sindh government’s decision to appoint Sardar Abdul Majeed Dasti as acting IGP without the premier’s approval.
“The IG Sindh’s removal is (also) a clear violation of the Sindh High Court’s orders, which already stayed the removal some time ago. We are waiting for the court’s response in this regard before taking any action.”
The PM, the sources said, was expected to hold an important meeting with security officials assigned to counterterrorism operations in Sindh before formally intervening in the matter.
The security establishment, it is learnt, also put its weight behind the sacked IG on account of his integrity, the main reason why the federal government decided to take on the Sindh government.
“Had it not been for the security establishment, peace would have hardly returned to Karachi. You just cannot ignore their input in an area where they have high stakes and deep involvement,” the source said, adding that AD Khawaja worked in smooth and effective coordination with Sindh Rangers and intelligence agencies to maximise the gains in Karachi operation.
“This was unprecedented. Hardly any top level police officer showed this kind of resolve, commitment and courage as he (Khawaja did) to take on the criminals, terrorists and (worked to disrupt) the mutual nexus between them, irrespective of political affiliations and political clout,” he explained.
Secondly, the official said, IG Sindh’s removal is tantamount to challenging the PM’s authority and the prime minister “just cannot let it go.”
Speaking to The Express Tribune, constitutional expert and former secretary of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Kunwar Dilshad said that the appointment of officers of grade 21 and 22 was the prerogative of the prime minister. “Chief secretaries, IGPs, IGs FC and DGs Rangers are representatives of federal government in the provinces. The PM appoints them and can remove them from their services.”
The PM could turn down any related summary moved by the provincial government in this regard and he might seek more names for making the related appointment or he can decide to retain the incumbent officer, he said.
Dilshad also pointed out that AG Khawaja’s removal also violated an SHC order.
Urging the Sindh government to act sensibly, he said: “Not only the SHC, but all stakeholders, including (members of) civil society, media, security establishment, federal government and general public support Khawaja. The Sindh government must now … back off.”
Requesting anonymity, a PPP leader with considerable clout in Sindh government affairs, said that the provincial government had moved to appoint the acting IG after it learnt that Sindh government’s suggestions on appointing a new IGP had been turned down by the PM House. This, he said, was the reason the Sindh government did not wait for the federal government’s decision and assigned Dasti to head the police department in violation of the rules.
Officials in the PM House said that by Saturday, the prime minister had not taken any decision on the Sindh government’s summary because he was in Lahore for some medical tests.
The PM was, however, expected to formally turn down the summary, officials said.