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February 10, 2019

News Analysis: Govt couldn’t keep its word for 24 hours

Top Story

February 10, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Within 24 hours of its commitment to depoliticise the civil bureaucracy and protect the tenure of civil servants, the government has arbitrarily and prematurely removed the KPK’s chief secretary and inspector general police both of them were appointed five months ago.

The reason for their abrupt transfer is their objection for the creation of a parallel policing system in the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) of the KPK, which in their view would be a violation of the Supreme Court order. These high-level, pre-mature transfers add to the growing list of officers shuffled within months of their appointment by the government for not obeying, what they believe, the unlawful orders of the political government. Earlier, besides others, the government had already changed the inspector general Punjab and the inspector general Islamabad within few months of their appointment.

During a meeting of the Task Force on Civil Service Reforms in Islamabad on Friday last (Feb 8th), the government had promised that the bureaucracy would be depoliticised and insulated from all kinds of political pressure. The government also committed to protect the integrity and security of tenure of bureaucrats. However, within 24 hours of making these commitments, it Saturday changed Chief Secretary Naveed Kamran Baloch and IGP Salahuddin Mehsud abruptly, arbitrarily and prematurely without allowing these key bureaucrats to complete their tenure. Informed sources said the top two bureaucrats in the KPK province were removed as they had voiced their disagreement to an official proposed bill to create a parallel policing system in the KPK’s erstwhile tribal areas. In the officers’ view such a parallel policing system involving Levies and Khasadars in the formerly tribal areas will be a violation of the Supreme Court order besides depriving the people of the 'former' tribal areas to have the same policing system as is available in other parts of the province.

The IGP as well as the chief secretary were in favour of having one policing system under the IGP in the entire KPK province. They wanted a transitional induction of Levies in the police department. The government, however, wanted two separate policing systems- one for the pre- merger KPK areas and the other for the formerly tribal areas.

For the ex-tribal areas, the political government wanted Khasadars and Levies to do the policing job under the deputy commissioners whereas in the remaining areas the normal police will continue its operation under the IGP. It is said that what the government suggested was the continuation of the old tribal area system for the ex-Fata areas with only one change i.e. political agent was to be replaced by the deputy commissioner. The IGP objected to the proposal and insisted that the proposed government bill creates a parallel police force for Fata and vests its control under the KPK government through secretary home and director general (Levies). The KPK’s top bureaucracy insisted that the proposed bill was not tenable for various reasons, which include that the bill was against the SC judgment, which clearly spells out that there cannot be a different law for the erstwhile Fata on any ground. The apex court, it is said, in its judgment had directed for the establishment of police stations in the Fata areas- merged with KPK- besides directing the IGP to issue SOPs to make police operational there. It was also discussed that the Supreme Court had clearly ruled that after the 25th Constitutional Amendment, the people of Fata (now KPK) are entitled to equal protection of the law.

It is said that the SC has also restricted the legislature as well as the executive from introducing any instrument that may place the erstwhile Fata in a disadvantaged position. Referring to the flaws in the proposed bill, it was also pointed out that there will be no coordination between two separate policing institutions in the provinces and as such the purpose of crime control will be seriously compromised. It was also pointed out that the bill in fact sought the continuation of the old and colonial system of the political agents through deputy commissioner. The KPK government’s Information Minister Shoukat Yosafzai was quoted by Geo as terming these top level transfers in the province as a routine affair.

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