KARACHI: Following the appointment of Home Minister Sohail Anwar Siyal, a major reshuffle in the police department is on the cards. Sources privy to the development told The Express Tribune that Siyal, who has developed differences with the Sindh IG, has directed his staff to compile a list of the officers appointed by IG Allah Dino Khawaja who can be replaced with Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) nominees in various districts.
“Additional IGs, DIGs, SSPs and SHOs currently working under the command of the IG and are considered close to him will be shown the door soon,” revealed a senior official in the police. He said the cold war between IG Allah Dino Khawaja and minister has resulted in confusion amongst the police ranks. “A few officers have been appointed by the IG in various districts. They would be the first casualties of the reshuffle,” said an SSP, adding that after the interference of the home minister, who has started giving directives to each and every police officer, the moral of police is lowering. “It looks like the minister’s assignment is solely to isolate the IG,” speculated the SSP, referring to Thursday’s meeting chaired by Siyal who directed police officers to follow his orders, as he is the competent authority to run the department.
During his tenure, the incumbent IG tried to depoliticise the police department and appointed many cops on merit, which is one of the reasons for the tussle between the Sindh government and top cop.
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Officers who are considered closed confidants of the IG include Mushtaq Maher, Sanaullah Abbasi, Munir Shaikh, Azad Khan, Arif Hanif, Sultan Khawaja and Aftab Pathan. “Some senior police officers have had differences with the IG over administrative issues but are unwilling to leave their boss alone in this crucial time and did not attend [Siyal’s] last meeting,” explained a senior police official.
“The government should not forget that this is a police department, not their political constituency,” he said. The official added that there are people who would definitely take advantage of this situation and go along with the government in order to receive rewards.
“In my personal opinion, this should not be happening,” said former Sindh IG Iqbal Mehmood. “The entire force is disturbed now because of this tussle. Both the IG and Sindh government should not do this. Khawaja should leave the post and the Sindh government should talk to the federal government regarding the appointment of a new IG.”
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The PPP leadership rejected rumours of differences with the IG, saying Siyal was reappointed as home minister following his stellar performance during his last tenure. “The home minister is performing his duty. He can hold a meeting at police headquarters and can set up his office there,” said senior PPP leader and Information Secretary Waqar Mehdi.
“He can reshuffle the police department from top to bottom where he thinks is best but this does not mean that they are appointing his men or PPP workers and side-lining the IG’s confidants,” he explained. “Every police officer is a police officer first, not a worker of any party,” said Mehdi. He also rejected allegations of the home minister removing the IG, saying the chief minister had control of the home ministry and if the government really wanted to remove Khawaja, the CM would have done so.
Though the differences between the Sindh government and IG erupted shortly after his appointment, the issue came to the public’s attention when the government sent Khawaja on a 15-day ‘forced’ leave in December last year. There were multiple issues that caused the differences but the transfer and postings of police officials without taking the government into confidence was one of the main reasons why the Sindh government was unhappy with the IG.
But the Sindh government failed to remove the IG after civil society filed a petition in court in his support. Interestingly, the IG also recently offered to surrender his services in court but was not permitted to do so.
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The issue gained new momentum after the Sindh government appointed Siyal as the new provincial home minister. On Thursday, the home minister convened a meeting of senior police officials regarding Ramazan arrangements but only seven police officials from across the province attended. Reports suggest that the IG directed his subordinates not to attend any meeting with the minister without prior approval.
Over the absence of a majority of the senior police officials at the meeting, Siyal questioned Khawaja’s motives for issuing the direction, saying the IG is a subordinate of the home ministry under the Police Act.
Meanwhile, Khawaja refused to comment on the issue, saying he will not comment until the completion of the court proceedings. Siyal and his spokesperson were also unavailable for comments.
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