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September 21, 2020

Call between top cop and Safdar ended at a bitter note


September 21, 2020

ISLAMABAD: It was his third day as the Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Lahore when unpleasant exchanges occurred between Umar Sheikh and Capt. (R) Safdar.

The latter was upset at reports that the new CCPO had been brought with a task to fix the former ruling family. Fears amplified when the Lahore police added terrorism clauses to an FIR registered against Maryam Nawaz and Captain (R) Safdar in a case related to clashes outside the NAB office.

Safdar obtained an interim bail from an anti-terrorism court and decided to have a straight talk with the Lahore police chief. For the purpose, he sought help of Muhammad Sajjad, his brother and sitting MNA from the constituency Safdar used to contest before disqualification. However, before him, Safdar was able to speak.

“Is CCPO Umar speaking?” he asked in a voice, what Umar Sheikh interpreted as loud and rude. Be remembered that I’m of 18th common and you’re of 21st common, CCPO said, reminding Safdar that he’s senior to him in service therefore he should mind his language.

Safdar was inducted into the civil service from the army after marriage with Maryam Nawaz Sharif and resigned after Mian Nawaz Sharif was ousted from premiership in 1999 by the then army chief.

Safdar had to lower his voice before the conversation could move forward, according to Umar Sheikh who told this to The News when approached for comment on this incident. Safdar complained that there were reports making rounds that the new CCPO had been brought for teaching a lesson to the Sharif family and the officer denied this allegation.

“You know my name? My name is Umar Sheikh. Have you ever heard of any Sheikh messing up with someone?” the CCPO quoted his conversation that he said he had with Safdar.

“There will be no political victimization,” he assured him but what he said next was what is likely going to happen. “However, if you are found guilty of any wrongdoing, the law will take its own course.” At this, Safdar said he would move the Supreme Court to challenge his appointment and the CCPO said he was free to do that.

Maryam and her spouse, Safdar, have been implicated in a stone pelting incident that took place on the day Maryam appeared before the National Accountability Bureau at its Lahore office on August 12. Efforts are afoot to make it a strong case against the couple.

The First Information Report (FIR) has already been filed by the NAB. Addition of terrorism clauses at the later stage reflects on the government’s intention in this regard. According to a source, the CCPO had a meeting with SP Investigation (Saddar) late Thursday night to inquire about the case wherein it was conveyed that Maryam Nawaz would be arrested.

The CCPO though confirmed the holding of the meeting, he denied the impression that there was any plan to target Maryam. Talking to The News, Umar Sheikh explained the context of that meeting. He said in conversation with him, Safdar had requested him (CCPO) to give an audience to his lawyer, Syed Farhad, for discussion relating to the case under question.

“The lawyer came to meet me and went back as my fan,” CCPO said, adding that Safdar wanted his cross-version added to the FIR in line with the position he and his spouse has taken in their petition.

According to the cross-version, the CCPO continued, Maryam was summoned at the NAB office as a part of conspiracy and her murder was the intended objective hence this stone-pelting was carried out. That cross-version was added late Thursday to the FIR and I went to the police station concerned for examining the case, he said.

“I was extremely busy in day time dealing with the gang-rape case; therefore, I held a meeting late at night,” he said. The SP Investigation (Saddar) and SHO Chung Police Station were called in for the same purpose, he said.

Asked did he say that he wanted to arrest Maryam at all costs, the CCPO dispelled the impression. After my first meeting with the Lahore Police that I held after assuming the charge, he said, a couple of disinformation was spread 1) that I have used inappropriate remarks against IG Punjab Shoaib Dastgir (who was removed later on); and 2) that I have been brought to fix PML-N. This one (related to the arrest of Maryam) is the third disinformation that I have now come to know, he said.

While Safdar was not available for comments despite repeated attempts to reach him through his personal staff, a privilege motion filed by his MNA bother tells the same story. It was moved on September 7, a couple of days after unpleasant exchanges between the CCPO and Safdar.

Addressed to the National Assembly speaker, his motion reads, “I had received reports from several police officers and other persons about the victimization campaign launched by the CCPO Lahore Umar Sheikh against me and my family. To clarify the matter, I was constantly trying to establish contact with the CCPO Lahore. At first, he did not attend my calls but when he did, he started to misbehave with me. I asked him to realize that he was talking to a Member of Parliament but he went on to misbehave with and verbally assaulted my family. Honorable Speaker, this act of CCPO Lahore breached my privilege……Therefore, I would like to raise a question of privilege against CCPO Lahore.”

When contacted by Umar Sheikh for comment, he said Sajjad called him to complain that his brother (Safdar) had been threatened. “I told him that I have spoken to Safdar and his lawyer would come to me. And that there was no element of threat,” the CCPO said, recalling his conversation with Sajjad.

He said in a rude manner that he would contact me after speaking with Safdar, according to the CCPO. “Mind your language,” the CCPO said he told Sajjad. As he kept calling, the CCPO didn’t attend and sent him a text message that he shared with The News: “You have tried to threaten me. I will do as per law whichever issue you will direct me.”