Inspector General of Police in Sindh AD Khawaja has offered to step down from his post voluntarily, saying it has become difficult for him to perform his duties amid a conflict with the Pakistan Peoples Party-led Sindh government.
In his comments filed with the Sindh High Court on Wednesday through his lawyer Shahab Osto, Khawaja said he found it ‘impractical’ to hold on to the IG office in the wake of the provincial government’s March 31 order, surrendering his services to the federal government.
The SHC is hearing a petition filed by a group of civil and human rights campaigners seeking police reforms. The petition also covers Khawaja’s removal as police chief and the court has restrained the provincial government from doing so till further orders.
The PPP-led government and Khawaja reportedly developed differences in December last year when the latter took action indirectly against an influential person close to the top PPP leadership.
In his reply to the court, Khawaja first mentioned his contribution to the betterment of the police department and claimed that there was a substantial reduction in crimes across the province, especially in Karachi.
“As a result, the city’s business environment has improved phenomenally, as indicated, inter-alia, by the steep rise in the index of Karachi Stock Exchange,” he said.
He admitted that there was still room for improvement in the police and emphasised that the “notoriously vexatious and politicized ‘thana culture’ has to be transformed, cleansing police stations of inefficiency, corruption, politicization and highhandedness of the officers.”
Khawaja said it was possible to achieve the aforementioned results as long as his relationship with the Sindh government was harmonious, but over the last six months, he had found it difficult to perform his professional duties.
He asked the court to remove his name from the list of respondents and allow him to formally approach the federal government to resign from his services with Sindh.
“In these challenging times when the country is waging a war, uncertainty over the police chief’s fate and his episodic removal and reinstatement is affecting the morale and efficiency of the force,” he added.
Even if the matter is decided in the favor of the petitioners, it would still be difficult for him to run his office smoothly without active and continuous backing of the provincial government, he said.
Summing up his reply, Khawaja said his statement had been made in the interest of justice, equity and good conscience.
The SHC bench, headed by Justice Muneeb Akhtar, expressed amazement over the reply submitted by Khawaja and asked his lawyer how the Sindh police chief had a sudden change of mind. The bench directed Khawaja to continue in his office till further orders.