Friday October 22, 2021

Another viewpoint on removal of six IGs in three years

September 12, 2021

LAHORE : Despite the former head of Punjab Commission for Police Reforms Nasir Khan Durrani (late) had practically implemented the reforms agenda in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police through operational autonomy, the PTI government buried the police reforms policy soon after coming into power in 2018.

Whether it was personal liking or disliking or the political agenda remained motive behind sudden massive reshuffles in Punjab province, the much-trumpeted police reforms agenda was packed up the day the Punjab Commission for Police Reforms head refused to work without giving operational autonomy to IGs. Removal of six IGs within three years is an eye-opener for all stakeholders. In his exclusive talk to this correspondent by phone, which was luckily recorded a couple of months before his departure to the eternal abode, Nasir Khan Durrani had clearly said, “If experiment of unity in command could be successful in KP province then it was also possible to be replicated in Punjab province.”

Nasir Durrani told The News that before he assumed the charge as the KP IG, he had put two demands before the chief minister. One was total operational autonomy for unity in command and the other was public accountability.

Through operational autonomy, he was even allowed to do transfer and posting of an additional inspector general of police. His demands were approved and included in KP Police Act. He told that in KP as well the IG had powers to issue orders of transfer and posting of the officer of rank of DSP only while for transfer of a DPO, the IG had to send a panel of officers to the chief minister for approval. However, after he assumed charge, he was allowed operational autonomy. Durrani served there for more than three and a half years and he practically implemented police reforms which were also hailed by the opposition leaders. He said he used to invite opposition leaders as chief guests to official functions while the police also set an example of registering FIRs against treasury members whenever any member committed cognizable offence.

To a question, Durrani said KP was very much difficult province as compared to Punjab as the people of KP followed traditional norms. He added changing traditional norms was not an easy job. However, as the people of KP witnessed fairness and firmness, they happily accepted the change. He said there was no political interference at all. He said that he also focused on public accountability as only operational autonomy without accountability could have led to misuse of power. Yes, there should always be public accountability, he asserted. He and his entire team were always ready to face accountability at every forum, Durrani in his last talk to The News asserted. Nasir Durrani said it put a very good effect on police culture and it helped boost public confidence. Durrani said it also helped boost the morale of police officers as they were not tagged as the appointees of MPAs and MNAs.

To a question about the rampant change of IGs, CCPOs, and massive reshuffling of officers in Punjab during the tenure of PTI in Centre and in Punjab, Durrani believed they would have to revert ultimately one day. He added that the duality diluted command but unity assured service delivery. Regarding Punjab province, Durrani said he had served in eight difficult districts, including Seikhupura, Sialkot, Jhang, Gujranwala and Sargodha, and got very good response due to firmness and fairness in duties. Unfortunately, the PTI government lost fairness and firmness to bring reforms in thana culture which resulted into transfer of six IGs, most of them regarded as very competent, decorated, honest and capable of bringing about and implementing reforms in decades-old thana culture. They were brought to the slot of provincial police officer (PPO) with honour but they had to go with disgrace as no obvious reason could be tabled as a motive behind their sudden removals. As the PTI government came into power in 2018, Dr Syed Kaleem Imam was the first inspector general of police Punjab who was serving as IG since June 13, 2018. He had joined civil services on November 1, 1988 and belonged to the 16th Common. He had a very good repute of being competent and honest but he was removed from the post within three months of his posting on September 11, 2018. Muhammad Tahir replaced Kaleem Iman on the same day. Before his appointment as IG Punjab, Tahir was serving as KP IG and he had earlier served on key posts in Punjab, Islamabad and KP. M Tahir joined police services of Pakistan as an ASP in 1988 and belonged to 16th Common of civil services. Despite serving on key posts, he was allowed to work for only one month and sent packing on October 15, 2018. It was the turning point for police reforms as in protest against the removal of M Tahir, the head of the Punjab Commission for Police Reforms Nasir Khan Durrani also stepped down. It was the day when police reforms agenda was packed up in the Punjab province due to the reasons best known to Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan.

The third IG, who became favorite of the PTI stalwarts, was Amjad Javed Saleemi but he was also allowed to serve for only six months as he was also sent packing on April 17, 2019. Amjad Javed Saleemi, who served as inspector general of Sindh Police before being appointed as IG Punjab, had joined the Police Service of Pakistan in 1986 and belonged to 14th Common Training Programme (CTP) of the Civil Service.

Then Capt (r) Arif Nawaz Khan was posted as 4th IG and he was also allowed to try his luck for only seven months. He was a BS-22 officer, who had joined Police Service of Pakistan in 1986. He also belonged to the 14th Common. He was removed from the post on November 28, 2019. Arif Nawaz was transferred without giving any justification for his premature transfer.

Former IG Azad Kashmir Shoaib Dastgir was appointed as IG Punjab as the 5th IG of Buzdar government. As compared to the previous four IGs, he was lucky enough to serve for 10 months. However, he was rarely allowed to bring about reforms in police culture. Shoaib Sastgir was a BS-22 officer of the Pakistan police force and he belonged to the 16th Common.

On September 09, 2020, he was also transferred rather he preferred to go home as the most controversial CCPO Umar Sheikh had started bashing the IG openly as the latter had powerful backing from the Centre.

Taking advantage of the situation, Inam Ghani tried his luck and he became successful in winning the slot of PPO. Inam Ghani hailed from Malakand district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He joined the Pakistan Police Service in 1989 as ASP and he belonged to the 17th Common.

He boasted and trumpeted bringing about reforms in police culture but most of incidents of police highhandedness and poor response, including the incident of Greater Iqbal Park and firing incident in the presence of the CM, occurred during his tenure.

His tenure as IG lasted almost for one year which was comparatively very good. However, the PTI government did not allow any of the above-mentioned IGs to serve as long as Nasir Durrani served in KP.

On September 8, 2021, Punjab Safe Cities Authority MD Rao Sardar Ali Khan replaced Inam Ghani. Rao Sardar is also regarded as an upright officer.

The incumbent IG Rao Sardar Ali Khan belongs to the 18th Common. He hails from Lodhran district. He joined the police service in 1990 as the assistant superintendent of police (ASP). The new police chief has also worked in the Intelligence Bureau for at least five years. Nobody knows how long he will serve to the satisfaction of the PTI government. One thing is clear that the people of Punjab are still bearing the brunt of notorious thana culture. Corruption, misuse of power and implication in fake FIRs is still rampant in Punjab province.