LAHORE, Jan 2: The Punjab government on Wednesday appointed Punjab Highway Patrol Additional IG Khan Baig as inspector general of police on an acting charge basis.

The top police post fell vacant after Habibur Rehman retired at the age of superannuation on Jan 1.

According to a notification issued by the Punjab Services & General Administration, Mr Baig had been transferred and posted Punjab additional IG vice Malik Khuda Bakhsh Awan who had been transferred and posted in Baig’s place.

Mr Baig, who is the 8th Commoner in Civil Service of Pakistan, was further notified to hold the charge of Punjab IG on an acting charge basis.

Sources close to the development told Dawn there was a neck-and-neck competition among three senior police officers of Punjab police for the top slot, but the name of Mr Baig was finalised at the government level a couple of days back.

They said traditionally by virtue of seniority, the senior most police officer, the Punjab additional IG should be given the acting charge of the Punjab IG, but the provincial chief executive could appoint any additional IG by using his discretionary powers.

Punjab Traffic Aadditional IG Kalb-i-Abbas, who also belongs to the 8th Common, is the senior most in the province followed by Mr Baig and Sarmad Saeed Khan, who is currently Punjab Welfare & Finance Additional IG.

Sources further said outgoing IG Rehman in a ‘correspondence’ with the Chief Secretary Office shortly before relinquishing the charge had recommended the name of former Punjab Additional IG Malik Khuda Bakhsh Awan for the top slot, but the Central Police Office received no reply till Wednesday evening.

They said Mr Baig was called in by the chief minister for an interview and given a go ahead.

A source at the Chief Minister’s Secretariat confided to this reporter that the government, which was ‘determined’ to appoint a regular IG, apparently failed to develop a consensus on the choices available in the federal government for the appointment of a regular IG and no correspondence was made with the federal government in this regard.

He said a couple of senior police officers in Islamabad and one in Punjab even showed their unwillingness to serve as the provincial chief keeping in view the short period ahead of general elections.

The source said it was then the chief minister decided to give charge to any officer on an acting charge basis.

He said it was likely that Mr Baig would continue till the formation of an interim government.

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