I first met Iqbal Mehmood, the recently sacked Inspector General of the Sindh police, when he was a Squadron Leader and Air force ADC to the Prime Minister, the much lamented Benazir Bhutto (RIP) during her first term in office. I found him to be an upright, cheerful, respectful, and highly efficient young officer, and got to know him well as I had almost weekly interactions with him as, first, Principal Information Officer, and then Press Secretary to the prime minister.
I have also followed his almost quarter-century career in the police to which he transferred during the caretaker prime ministership of Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi, and there, too, found him spoken highly of by his peers and his seniors some of whom were my old friends from school and college, and service.
It, therefore, came as a rude shock to see news reports in all of the newspapers that this good officer, and good man, was peremptorily sacked because he refused to sign off on reportedly second-hand armoured personnel carriers (APCs), which though have been allegedly reconditioned, are said to be more expensive than brand new ones. This is said to be the work of a middle-man who has not been named yet in the press; a man who can apparently press all the ‘right’ buttons in the Sindh government hierarchy.
It is also reported that one Chief Secretary, Aijaz Chaudhry; and one Additional Chief Secretary (Home Affairs), Syed Mumtaz Shah, have also been removed from their posts for the reason that they, too, objected to the non-transparent way in which the purchase of these APCs has been proceeding. Indeed, the mandatory Public Procurement Regulatory Authority’s (PPRA) rules have been lifted for a period of one year to facilitate this ‘urgent’ purchase.
Well, more strength to the Sindh government I say, this going down as one of the hallmarks of ‘good governance’ there. Let us also not lose sight of the fact that Mehmood is the 6th Inspector General of the Sindh police to have been changed in three and a half years. Individual stays in that office to the nearest month: let’s not quibble about days. (Thank you O’ Google!)
Wajid Ali Khan: 17/6/’11 to 22/10/’11: four months; Mushtaq Ahmed Shah: 22/10/’11 to 7/7/’12: nine months; Fayyaz Ahmed Leghari: 11/7/’12 to 8/3/’13: eight months; Ghulam Shabbir Shiekh: 8/3/’13 to 23/3/’13: 15 days; Shahid Nadeem Baloch: 23/3/’13 to 20/2/’14: 10 months; Iqbal Mehmood: 22/2/’14 to 7/7/’14: five months. So there you have it. And then we say the law and order in Karachi is bad because the police do nothing! What in God’s name can the police do when its commanders are changed so frequently, and I have not written about other important officers who have held critical posts such as the well-spoken of Shahid Hayat and who, too, were changed without good reason.
It is imperative for the Sindh police to be supplied with suitable equipment so they can fight the many mafias and terrorists which infest Karachi, but this should be done in a transparent manner, not in negotiated deals with just one party offering their wares. In any case, how long does it take for an urgent international tender to be floated? It is now for the Sindh government to look seriously into this matter and proceed with caution, always remembering the power of the social media that shines the light in the darkest corners of government doings. Please do the right thing and get yourself a good name.
In the meanwhile, Iqbal Mehmood will be a most suitable candidate for any job with the federal government/another province that appreciates upstanding officers who will not flinch while telling the truth to their superiors. Godspeed Iqbal.
And now for the light being shone on the PTI’s great Azadi March on August 14. I was astonished to hear Mr Hamid Khan the eminent lawyer complain on TV just the other night that the election tribunals were being unfair to the PTI’s candidates who, according to themselves, were the winners in last year’s elections. As an example, he quoted a person named Dar from Sialkot who lost to Khawaja Asif. Mr Hamid Khan stated that since Mr Dar was travelling abroad on business and could not attend three hearings of the election tribunal, his case was decided against him. I ask you!
If Mr Dar considers his business dealings abroad more important than pursuing his case before the election tribunal, whose fault is it? Surely he should then pursue his business dealings instead of hankering after a seat in the National Assembly, the hearings of which he has not attended on the three postponements allowed him.
At the same time, Mr Hamid Khan says the PTI has no faith in the Election Tribunals. Who then will carry out the audit of ALL the NA seats that Mr Imran Khan is demanding now? Men in Green who saved the Ravi Bridge from Indian bombing raids in the ’65 war?
Then, one PTI leader says one thing, the other something quite another. While self-same Hamid Khan says PTI has no intention of asking the government to resign, the PTI Punjab president says the ‘Dharna’ after the August 14 ‘Tsunami’ to Islamabad will stay in Blue Area until the announcement of mid-term elections!
As for the government’s ‘handling’ of the Blue Area ‘Dharna’, if anyone were to take my advice, I would say give notice to the shops/businesses/hospitals/residents in and around Blue Area that they will be responsible for their own safety. To remove any danger of a repeat of the Model Town fiasco, the police should be present behind containers placed outside the fence of the parliament buildings with hundreds of CCTV cameras beaming pictures live on a PTV channel all across the world.
If there are troublemakers in the crowd let everyone see them. Problem solved.
I’ll bet the residents will chase away the ‘Dharnistas’ as soon as they start relieving themselves outside their premises.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2014.