Goodbye Dr Imam

What we need to appreciate is that Sindh police is run by different lobbies that in turn patronize different mafias

Kamal Siddiqi February 03, 2020

One can only wonder what were the circumstances that led to the dismissal of Sindh police chief Dr Kaleem Imam by the provincial government and why the powers that be in Islamabad finally decided to give in.

It was only after some understanding was reached last week between the PM and the Sindh CM that the PM agreed to the transfer of Dr Imam, to the position of secretary of the Narcotics division.  As a face saver, Dr Kaleem was seen meeting the PM at his office. One can only wonder how this whole episode played out.

I had the pleasure of inviting Dr Imam last year to our Centre for Excellence in Journalism in IBA where he gave a presentation to master’s students on the challenge of policing Sindh. He came across as an officer with all the right credentials (he started his career as a lecturer in philosophy, did a PhD and took several other professional courses) as well as much of the right work experience (many years in different professional postings in various parts of Pakistan as well as abroad).

Obviously, he did not have the one skill that keeps people in Sindh in positions of power for years at end – to be shameless and spineless. A former chief minister of the province being a good example.

With Dr Imam’s exit, Sindh has lost a competent and diligent officer.  We are still not certain what were the reasons for the exit. The reasons so far shared are laughable – that the IG was exceeding his brief and was issuing political statements. And that the law and order situation in the province was deteriorating. Since when has that been a reason for anyone losing their jobs in the past?

What we see is that the province of Sindh has made it a habit to cry about the neglect it faces. But time and again we have also seen that independent and competent officers and civil servants posted at key posts are removed by the provincial government at the behest of the leadership of the ruling party only because they refused to bend the rules.

There are many examples. One that comes to mind is the brother-in-law of the sitting CM who was removed from key positions time and again because he was focusing on performance and not on the performers. And then there was the daughter of another CM who was not cooperating and was transferred. When it comes to making money, no one can come in the way it seems.

In Dr Kaleem’s case, trouble started brewing some months back but in January things came to a head and the Sindh cabinet announced that a new IGP be appointed to replace Dr Imam. In response, the federal government snubbed Sindh’s request, saying he would continue to serve until further notice.

When Islamabad refused to comply, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) protested that the governor and opposition have no role in appointing the new Inspector General of Police (IGP) for Sindh.  Sindh Information Minister Saeed Ghani went one step further and has said that the IGP Sindh was acting like a ‘Don’ at the behest of the federal government.

He added that had any officer of any province made remarks with the same tone and tenor like the one delivered by Dr Kaleem Imam some days prior, the reaction of the Prime Minister would have been totally different.

Saeed Ghani, an otherwise reasonable man, was referring to the statement made by Kaleem Imam when he broke his silence. Addressing a ceremony in remembrance of fallen police officers, after months of silence, Dr Kaleem said “I will not go so easily. There has been a major conspiracy against me.”

To give some hint on why he was being asked to leave, the IGP told his audience that the police had to work under rules and regulations and follow the oath they took when they put on the uniform.

What we need to appreciate is that the Sindh police is run by different lobbies that in turn patronize different mafias. An IGP must balance this with the expectations of the top leadership which has its own interests to protect. While doing his job, at some point Dr Kaleem upset the equilibrium. And even the PM could not save him after that.


Published in The Express Tribune, February 3rd, 2020.

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