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January 7, 2015

Why our system ignores upright and competent civil servants?


January 7, 2015

Zulfiqar Cheema, a police officer with unmatched integrity, honesty, uprightness and professionalism, has retired but has always remained misfit in the corrupt system. People fell that the services and abilities of competent like Mr Cheema remain mostly under-utilised because our system allows only those to flourish who have a 'flexible' personality and approach.
Zulfiqar Cheema, an outstanding civil servant (Senior Police Officer of I.G rank) remained underutilised because of his principles and his habit of taking a stand against corruption and injustice. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif too is said to have praised Mr. Cheema for his competence and uprightness.
The bitter fact is that the present political system needs spineless officers and does not accept or tolerate persons with strong character.
Well-informed people have disclosed that Chief Minister Punjab Mian Shahbaz Sharif has on many occasions admired Zulfiqar Cheema's professional competence, honesty and capacity to deliver, but even then Mr Cheema was never assigned to command the police of the largest province as the Punjab cabinet ministers and MPs knew that they would not be able to use police to get their jobs done if Mr Cheema became the police chief. So Cheema remained dumped in the Motorway Police as IG for almost a year and a half and retired.
The following examples are enough to describe why Pakistani system does not accept officers like Zulfiqar Cheema. When Mr Cheema was posted as Regional Police Officer Sheikhupura, a district that had become notorious for its dacoits, robbers and kidnappers, it took him only two months to cleanse the district and turn all the no-go areas into peaceful zones. The Intelligence Bureau's report issued about Sheikhupura said: "During the last three to four years, Sheikhupura had become a hub of violence and lawlessness and was in fact made hostage by the most desperate criminals involved in murder, robberies and kidnapping for ransom.

The government's writ was non-existent and the people of Sheikhupura region felt absolutely insecure. Amongst the dangerous gangs operating in Sheikhupura Aakash & Kashi and Shahzad & Shahzadu were undoubtedly the most dangerous. The report, according to the sources, also quotes an incident when a police officer of Faisalabad tried to chase and arrest the notorious criminals. Kashi and Shahzado kidnapped the mother, wife and daughter of that police inspector. The demoralised police force was hesitant to make sincere efforts to arrest them, the report says adding the business in the area was also badly affected and many of the businessmen were shifting to foreign countries. In this backdrop DIG Zulfiqar Cheema was appointed as the police chief of Sheikhupura region. Cheema started operation cleanup within and ousted the most notoriously corrupt SHOs and DSPs. Then the DIG and his team comprising DPO Haider Ashraf and SP Waqas launched a campaign against the criminals in the most aggressive manner. The police started flag march in the most dangerous areas and the places, which had become no-go areas. No exemption was given even to the influential people including MNAs and MPAs. The de-weaponisation campaign was remarkably successful and brought dividends. No-go areas and the criminals' hideouts were smashed. The graph of heinous crimes like robberies fell considerably and kidnapping-for-ransom became a thing of the past. People of the area heaved a sigh of relief and the whole effort brought a sense of security amongst the citizens who generously praised the DIG and his team for bringing peace to the area. Some of the most dangerous gang leaders like Kashi and Shahzadu were killed in police encounter. With their elimination people of Sheikhupura got rid of the menace of violence and lawlessness. When the police vehicles brought dead bodies of these most dangerous criminals to the DHQ Hospital, Sheikhupura for postmortem the citizens showered flower petals on police vehicles and chanted slogans in support of the DIG and Sheikhupura Police."
During the by-elections in Gujranwala on August 5, 2010, the results of all polling stations of NA-100 had reached the office of District Returning Officer except for nine or ten polling stations. The Presiding Officers of these polling stations were also missing. PPP workers got worried and they apprehended some foul play. The PML-N candidate had planned to win by rigging the election. DIG Cheema reached the office of DRO, rescued the missing polling officers and after swift interrogation got actual results which were presented to the DRO. As a result the PPP candidate won by a margin of about 2,500 votes. The PPP leaders present there were amazed at the fairness and neutrality of the police officer. Cheema told them plainly that he has not done no favour to them he has just performed his duty as a civil servant.
It was because of such dutifulness that Cheema had become persona non grata for those in power; he was always praised but not given any top slot, neither by PML-N nor by PPP. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif wanted to appoint Zulfiqar Cheema as chairman of FPSC after Malik Asif Hayat's retirement to improve the system of recruitment but those who opposed Cheema did not let it happen. Why a person like Cheema become useless for the state while those having tainted background remain 'useful' even in their seventies?

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