KARACHI: The two-year tenure of A.D. Khowaja as inspector general of police in Sindh — that came to an end on Wednesday when he was replaced with Amjad Javed Saleemi — was different in many ways since he not only succeeded in bringing much-needed improvement in the policing system but also survived 27 months as the police chief without the backing of the then Pakistan Peoples Party-led Sindh government.

Many people believe that with Mr Khowaja’s transfer the caretaker government on the instruction of the Election Commission of Pakistan has, in a way, fulfilled a long-standing desire of the PPP high-ups who tried many times but failed to remove him from the office during the last two years, as he refused to oblige their wishes in police recruitment and tried to run the department strictly on merit and without any political interference.

“He [Mr Khowaja] has laid the foundations towards an independent, depoliticised and accountable police,” observed senior lawyer Faisal Siddiqi, who represented the civil society before the Sindh High Court in a petition against the removal of Mr Khowaja by the Sindh government. “But [there is still] a long way to go.”

Fellow officers, civil society activists praise A.D. Khowaja’s services

Senior lawyer Shahab Usto, who represents Mr Khowaja in the famous police reforms case, believed that the then IGP had established his neutrality and, therefore, people were not happy with his removal.

Pointing out that the apex court’s landmark judgement which ruled that any IGP would enjoy a fixed tenure of three years, Advocate Usto said it was not clear whether the posting of a new IGP in Sindh was a stop-gap arrangement or the new elected government would bring its own police chief after the July 25 polls.

‘A role model’

Senior police officer Barrister Abdul Khalique Shaikh told Dawn that Mr Khowaja “will go down in history as a legendary IGP who left a rich legacy in shape of integrity, institutional reforms, professionalism and welfare-oriented activities.

“He will be seen and remembered as a role model for coming generations of police officers,” he said.

Zubair Habib, the chief of the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee, said transparent police recruitment, revival of the police welfare board and enhancement of grants for the families of slain policemen, outsourcing of Madadgar 15 police centres and making 100 mobiles available for emergency response were the key highlights of Mr Khowaja’s tenure.

The establishment of police facilitation centres across Sindh was another noteworthy contribution of the outgoing police chief, he added.

“There were many trying moments during his tenure but he kept his head high and continued to excel during turbulent times,” he said. Having realised that time was certainly not on his side, the outgoing IG initiated hectic pace of reforms within the department. He has certainly left his mark on the Sindh police and “will always be remembered especially for his honesty, integrity and most of all for his humble attitude”, said the CPLC head.

Senior police officers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, termed Mr Khowaja’s tenure good for the police. “The most noteworthy thing was de-politicisation of the force,” said one of them.

They said Mr Khowaja had inherited a “highly politicised police force” and his major achievement was establishing its ‘independence’. He had initiated major reforms to this effect and if subsequent police chiefs followed the same, independence of the police would be further strengthened.

27,000 policemen recruited on merit

The outgoing IG Khowaja told Dawn that during his tenure around 27,000 policemen were recruited “on merit”. They were trained by the army.

A school of investigation was established to improve the performance of the investigation branch to bring culprits to justice.

Independent boards were established for police welfare and recruitment for Madadgar 15. The compensation for those killed in the line of duty was increased from Rs2 million to Rs10m, he added.

Mr Khowaja said for helping general public, police facilitation centres and reporting rooms were established in all divisional headquarters while women and child protection units at police stations were also established.

The record of criminals was also integrated with the Punjab police.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the outgoing IG said: “Waters were really rough at times” but the media stood with him and his team.

He said that the Sindh police was “fortunate that it has got leadership of active, honest and professional IG Amjad Saleemi”.

Maintaining that the new IG was a “highly experienced officer with leadership qualities”, he hoped that by using his leadership qualities he would make the police force more active.

Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2018