KARACHI: Despite the Sindh High Court’s (SHC) order to suspend the notification for the removal of Inspector General of Police (IG) AD Khawaja, the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is not likely to give up its efforts to remove the top cop. It has decided to convene a meeting of the Sindh cabinet in the coming days, seeking approval to send the IG packing and recommend his replacement.
A senior leader in the PPP told The Express Tribune that the government will comply with the court orders. “The court has asked whether the provincial government has gotten approval from the Sindh cabinet,” he said, adding that Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Murad Ali Shah will convene a meeting on this issue after the death anniversary of PPP founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. “We have consulted constitutional experts and most of them have suggested adopting this policy,” he said.
Confusion, however, prevailed in the ranks of the PPP and Sindh government about further lines of action. While talking to the media in Shikarpur, the CM said that the issue of the IG will be resolved. “It is purely an administrative issue. Abdul Majid Dasti [the acting IG] and Khawaja are both competent officers,” the CM said. “After the 18th Amendment, it is the provincial government’s prerogative to surrender the services of the IG and recommend new names,” he claimed. “The law has given us the authority to look after the appointment and transfer of the provincial top cop,” he said, while speaking about the federal government’s decision to intervene in this matter.
Former information adviser Maula Bux Chandio said that the provincial government will challenge the decision. “We reserve the right to appeal,” he said, adding that Khawaja is a grade-21 officer and Dasti is senior, working in grade-22. According to reports, PPP Co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari has also directed the CM to consult constitutional experts and come up with a solution.
On the other hand, advocate Faisal Siddiqui, who has challenged government’s decision in the court, said that it was the federal government’s authority to appoint the IG for three years and provincial government cannot remove him before his tenure ends. “They have violated rules of business by attempting to remove the IG twice in a year,” Siddiqui said. “The chief secretary cannot relieve IG. It is the federal government’s domain to relieve and appoint the top cop of the province,” he said.
Referring to the Supreme Court’s order issued in the Anita Turab case, he said that the officials whose tenure is fixed cannot be removed. “The court has already set such precedent,” he added.
Qaumi Awami Tehreek leader Ayaz Latif Palijo has termed the SHC’s stay against removal of the IG a ‘victory of justice’. In a statement on Monday, Palijo accused the Sindh government of showing intolerance towards honest police officers and bureaucrats. “DIG Bashir Memon [former commissioner of Karachi and Hyderabad], Asif Haider Shah [former deputy commissioner of Hyderabad and focal person of polio programme], Fayyaz Ahmed Jatoi, SSP Javed Sonharo Jiskani and others have all been subjected to vindictive actions [by the provincial government],” he alleged.
Paljo blamed the PPP for taking up the cudgels on behalf of allegedly corrupt persons such as Dr Asim Hussain, MPA Sharjeel Memon, former fishermen cooperatives secretary Nisar Morai and others, but never supporting the officers known for their probity and performance. “There is no democracy in Sindh but only a kingdom of Asif Zardari,” he claimed.
Khawaja assumed his office and held a meeting with representatives of the national medial course at Central Police Office on Monday, soon after the SHC annulled provincial government’s decision to remove him.
During the meeting, Khawaja briefed the delegation about the police performance, law and order situation in the province and the ongoing operation in Karachi. The delegation was also briefed about the command, control and surveillance system in the city. Those who attended the meeting included Counter-Terrorism Department Additional IG Sanaullah Abbasi and the DIGs of headquarters and operations.
Two days back, when Dasti took over the charge as acting IG, he called a high-level meeting of police officials, but many did not turn up. “During the meeting he inquired about the senior police officials,” said a senior police official on the condition of anonymity. However, when contacted, the spokesperson for Central Police Office claimed that all police officers were present in the meeting.
*With additional reporting by Sheharyar Ali and Z Ali