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October 11, 2018

PTI ministers believe…: Punjab ‘can’t adopt’ KP-like police reforms

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October 11, 2018

LAHORE: Quite contrary to its pre-poll claims, the PTI government seems reluctant to end the traditional political influence over police that has become obvious after the sudden resignation of Nasir Durrani, head of Punjab Police Reforms Commission.

Although Durrani has described ‘health reasons’ as the cause for his resignation, his differences with the PTI government over the proposed Police Order became the reason behind his resignation, said sources.

The Police Reforms Commission headed by Nasir Durrani was working on a plan to come up with the Police Order under which a chief minister couldn’t influence his position over the transfer and posting of a police official.

Under the existing rules, the transfers of officials from Grade 19 and above are done with the approval of the CM. However, the committee headed by Durrani wanted to end the CM role and wanted absolute powers to transfer any police official. This was tantamount to cutting the existing powers of the CM and this also became the reason behind the tug of war between Durrani and the Buzdar government, the sources said, adding that a summary in this regard had been prepared and some of the ministers from Punjab had also signed it.

However, this idea displeased most of the members of the Punjab cabinet and elected MNAs, MPAs of the PTI, who, in the last cabinet meeting in Lahore, voiced their apprehensions towards the working of the committee.

PTI insiders say that during the recent visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to Lahore during which he chaired a meeting of the Punjab cabinet, some of the ministers expressed their grievances over the lack of cooperation by police, which according to them was ignoring the requests even from the elected members of the party. Resultantly, the elected MNAs and MPAs from Punjab had to undergo severe criticism from people of their respective constituencies which could also cost party high in the upcoming by-polls scheduled on October 14.

This is noteworthy that Nasir Durrani resigned just a few days before the October 14 by-polls whereas the decision of transferring Punjab Police IG Tahir Khan by the PTI government has been suspended by the Election Commission.

The sources stated that the participants of the meeting contended that a ‘KP like’ model couldn’t be adopted in Punjab owing to its different dynamics and different attitude of voters and people. The sources said the participants received positive vibes from their superiors on their contention.

Some members of Imran Khan’s elected team from Punjab also raised complaints about the disrespect shown by a few DPOs and senior police officials, particularly to the supporters of an MPA from Bahawalpur that added insult to injury. In an incident, two MPAs of PTI were allegedly disrespected by a DPO in Southern Punjab and this matter was brought into the notice of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

This is noteworthy that since August when the PTI government came into power, the tussle between the police hierarchy and the elected government of Punjab has been obvious in which the latter has been accused of using its influence in transfers, postings and other affairs related to the department. Besides, the incident related to Pakpattan DPO Rizwan Gondal is also a glaring example of the PTI using its influence over police, which came as a stark contrast to its pre-poll claims.

The matter has been sorted out after Chief Minister Usman Buzdar himself had to seek pardon before the court. Time and again, while addressing different political gatherings, public meetings, PTI Chairman Imran Khan had vowed to end political influence over police. However, this doesn’t seem a possibility at present where the PTI government in Punjab wants absolute control over police.

Fayazul Hassan Chohan, Punjab information minister, when contacted by The News over the resignation of Nasir Durrani, ruled out that there had been any ‘political’ reason behind it or the transfer of IGP Tahir Khan.

When Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry was asked whether the PTI government fulfilled its pre-poll commitment of ending political influence on police, he replied “We will bring those reforms.”

When asked whether the reason behind the resignation of Nasir Durrani was the fact that the PTI elected members were not willing for any reforms in the Punjab Police, Fawad replied, “Nasir Durrani has himself said that health reasons are the cause of his resignation.”

When asked whether the PTI would bring reforms in the Police Department, Fawad replied, “The government will bring reforms in police and it fulfilled one condition of the police reforms while transferring the IG Punjab to replace him with a Grade 22 official.”

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