In the wake of the Rawalpindi violence, the Punjab government ordered a major shake-up of law enforcement personnel on Tuesday. Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) Khan Baig changed nearly the entire top-level police bureaucracy in Rawalpindi city. Even some of the favourites of the federal interior minister and the Punjab chief minister were not spared either.
In a major spell of transfers, the provincial government removed City Police Officer (CPO), the Counter Terrorism Department Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) and the VVIP Security SSP, while the Regional Police Officer (RPO) was made the officer on special duty (OSD).
“The CPO was a blue-eyed boy of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, while the RPO was Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s favourite,” a senior police officer told The Express Tribune.
All of these officers were accused of “negligence, dereliction and flawed planning for Rawalpindi’s Ashura procession” and they were now facing investigations by a fact-finding committee.
CPO Bilal Siddique Kamyana and SSP (VVIP Security) Dar Ali Khattak were removed from office, as was Counter Terrorism Department SSP Dr. Muhammad Azam. They were all asked to report to the police headquarters the same day.
Meanwhile, Crime Investigation Agency SP Chaudhry Hanif was transferred to SP Rawal and SP Jumaat Shah Bukhari was given the CIA charge. To replace Kamyana, DIG Akhtar Umer Hayat Lalika was appointed the new CPO Rawalpindi, besides giving him the additional charge of RPO. Rai Zameer, the Faisalabad Investigation SP, was appointed as the Security SP.
The government, however, spared Commissioner Khalid Masood Khan and District Coordination Officer (DCO) Sajid Zafar who were out of town at the time of the incident, even though they were not on vacation.
Rana Sanaullah’s press talk
Separately, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah announced that progress has been made in the investigation of the Rawalpindi violence as alleged perpetrators have been arrested and a recording of the cleric’s speech inciting the violence has been obtained.
Addressing a press conference in the Punjab Assembly cafeteria on Tuesday, he said the recording will be sent to the judicial commission constituted for the investigation and the fact-finding committee has also begun its inquiry. Meanwhile, a committee has been constituted to assess the financial loss of the damaged market and mosque, which it would include in the report it publishes in seven days. Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has allocated funds for the reconstruction of the shops and mosque.
Aftab Cheema, the head of the counterterrorism department, is currently in Rawalpindi and he is going through the investigation reports, the law minister told the press.
Rana Sanaullah said the accused hail from different parts of the country and that the investigation team has the mandate to take action against the accused irrespective of their creed or sect.
He said the violence in Rawalpindi was not an abrupt or isolated event, but it was deliberate and planned. However, he said that the police have failed to take the appropriate steps.
The law minister rebuffed news reports of the police handing over their guns to protesters to shoot the seminary students, terming the rumours “poisonous propaganda”.
Responding to the Punjab Assembly’s opposition leader, PTI’s Mian Mehmoodul Rashid, who demanded Shahbaz Sharif’s resignation over the Rawalpindi violence, Rana Sanaullah said the PTI should assess its performance during the Kohat and Hangu violence first.
Meanwhile, he clarified that the government would neither impose a curfew nor block cell-phone networks on Friday, the day religious parties have announced they will organise a day of protest for the Rawalpindi violence. The ulema have assured the Punjab government that they would observe a peaceful protest, he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 20th, 2013.
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