On Oct 10, Punjab Inspector General Police Mohammad Tahir was sacked from his posting by the federal government on alleged account of noncompliance with the PTI’s recommendations of illegitimate transfers. The noncompliance came after the Election Commission’s earlier instruction that no transfers or postings shall be made before the Oct 14 by-elections. Though Tahir will not officially be removed until after the by-polls, this has created a murky situation for the Punjab police and the PTI government.
It has been the pattern for decades that police officials who have not complied with previous government’s orders have been transferred to remote areas. This is a punitive measure in disguise to oust the officials and replace him or her with a favourite of the government — more so a puppet who will follow orders rather than operate as an impartial entity. No police force has operated independently. Thus, the PTI’s discontent comes as no surprise given patterns in the past but we had higher expectations of the new government. The Model Town police brutality happened under the PML-N’s watch. The PTI replaced IG Tahir only four weeks ago. Its pressure to transfer five DPOs and remove those implicated in the 2014 Model Town killings were disappointing and the hesitation on the IG’s part was well grounded. To remove the five officers while the case was ongoing is perhaps unjustified but a suspension may have been in order. Although the IG’s rationale to transfer only some of the Model Town officers was unclear, we find his removal by the PTI to be odd.
The policing issues have carried forward since the PML-N government’s time. IG Tahir’s removal was rash. It has led to a tiff between the entire Punjab police force and the provincial and federal governments, prompting a resignation by the head of the police reforms commission, Nasir Durrani. Stakeholders need to cooperate to maintain the sanctity of governance and policing.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 11th, 2018.