KARACHI: The posting of police officer Shahid Hayat as city police chief in place of Ghulam Qadir Thebo is considered to be the most significant of all the transfers and postings announced by the provincial services and general administration department on Thursday.
Generally seen as a straight-forward police official, Mr Hayat has many high-profile cases to his credit. However, it was his involvement in the Mir Murtaza Bhutto murder case that kept him in the news for a long time.
The deadly encounter took place in September 1996 and, 17 years on, Mr Hayat has been made Additional Inspector General of Police (AIGP), Karachi range.
Mr Hayat was a commissioned Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) with just five years in service when the unfortunate incident occurred.
Mir Murtaza Bhutto along with his seven companions was killed in the alleged police encounter near 70 Clifton on Sept 20, 1996. The then Clifton SHO, Haq Nawaz Sial, had filed an FIR of the case the same night against the companions of Mr Bhutto.
Mr Hayat was among the police officials accused of killing Mr Bhutto and his companions in a ‘fake encounter’ in another FIR lodged by Noor Mohammad, an aide of the late Mr Bhutto. The other accused in the case included Shoaib Suddle, Wajid Durrani, Shakib Qureshi, Rai Tahir and Masood Sharif.
After a trial that continued for 13 years, an additional district and sessions judge in December 2009 acquitted all the accused.
Mr Hayat was among many police officials who had been put in jail regarding Mr Bhutto’s case for two years.
They won back freedom on bail two years later and resumed service.
Some high-profile cases whose investigation Mr Hayat headed included the supervision of the probe into the Shahzeb murder case, which culminated in the successful custody of Shahrukh Jatoi, since convicted, and his return to Karachi to face trial. Another case related to the arrest of a man known as the ‘white corolla wallah’.
Mr Hayat also supervised the investigation into the Abbas Town bombing and arrested several suspects.
In the notification issued on Thursday, Mr Hayat — who is a Police Service of Pakistan officer holding the post of Deputy Inspector General (BS-20) — has been posted as additional inspector general of police, a BS-21 post, “in his own pay and scale”.
The Advocate General for Sindh (AG), Khalid Jawed Khan, told Dawn that the posting in “own pay and scale” was not against a recent verdict of the Supreme Court.
He said the court had given an order against out-of-turn promotions, deputations, absorptions, contractual appointments after retirement etc.
“The Supreme Court in an earlier observation in another case had directed that for a stopgap purpose, postings could be made in own pay and scale but that should not be a routine exercise and should be done for shorter periods,” said Mr Khan.
However, additional inspectors general of police and deputy inspectors general of police senior to him take a dim view of Mr Hayat’s posting.
Since Mr Hayat is still dogged by his association with the Mir Murtaza Bhutto murder case, a spokesman for the Pakistan Peoples Party (Shaheed Bhutto) took the first opportunity to condemn his posting as city police chief in a statement.
According to Mr Hayat, he graduated from Punjab University and briefly joined the police service in Punjab in 1991 before he started his long stint in the Sindh police.
Mr Hayat is the third officer related to the Murtaza Bhutto case who has assumed a top position in the police hierarchy in Sindh. Earlier, Shoaib Suddle, who was the city police chief when the alleged encounter occurred, was made Sindh police chief in 2008 and transferred within three months.
Luck smiled on Wajid Durrani, a Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) in 1996, when he was posted to lead the provincial police in 2009, though for a period slightly longer than Mr Suddle.