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KARACHI: Inspector General of Police, Sindh, Amjad Javed Saleemi on Wednesday removed Karachi police chief Mushtaq Ahmed Mahar and posted Additional IG Dr Amir Ahmed Shaikh in his place.

The decision came amid reports that powerful quarters were unhappy over the role of Karachi police in an FIA-mandated money laundering case against Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairman Asif Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur and many others.

Besides some junior police officials, another senior officer, SSP East Mohammad Nauman Siddiqui, was also transferred by the IGP.

While officials remained tight-lipped over the development, sources at the Central Police Office (CPO) said that the action was taken in the light of the findings of a probe carried out on the directives of the Supreme Court.

On Aug 6, a three-judge SC bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar had taken up a suo motu case regarding fake accounts involving Rs35bn alleged money laundering. During the hearing, the FIA director general alleged that the Sindh police were harassing witnesses. The apex court ordered IG Saleemi to look into the matter and furnish a report.

Some officials say Mushtaq Mahar was ‘punished’ for political reasons; Amir Shaikh new police chief

The sources said that the IGP asked Additional IG Dr Aftab Pathan to conduct an inquiry into the allegations of harassment against policemen.

They said several policemen appeared before the inquiry officer at the CPO and ‘admitted’ that they stayed at the house of a woman, who is a witness in the money laundering case, for up to six hours, contradicting the account of a senior police officer who told the IGP that the police stayed for merely “10 to 15 minutes” at her house in Gulistan-i-Jauhar to serve the summons.

The sources said that the IGP expressed his extreme displeasure against the senior police officer for ‘covering up’ the incident.

AIG Mahar says he requested for transfer

While Mr Mahar had just completed his three-year term as the Karachi police chief, on Wednesday the IGP transferred him and posted Additional IG finance, logistics and welfare Amir Ahmed Shaikh in his place.

Mr Mahar told Dawn that he had already completed his three-year tenure as the Karachi police chief and only two days after the general elections he asked the IGP and the Sindh government to transfer him.

He was appointed in July 2015 as the city police chief. Two years later, he was transferred and posted as city traffic police chief. But he returned to his previous post in just five weeks.

A notification issued by the IG reads: “In exercise of the authority conferred vide para 96(c) of the judgement of Honourable High Court of Sindh dated Sept. 7, 2017 in C.P. (No. D-7097 of 2016 and C.P. D-131 of 2017), Mushtaq Ahmed Mahar, a PSP (BS-21), additional inspector general of police, Karachi range is transferred and directed to report to Central Police Office Sindh, Karachi.”

Another notification stated that Dr Amir Ahmed Shaikh — a PSP officer (BS-21) — was posted with immediate effect and until further orders as the Karachi police chief.

SSP East Nauman Siddiqui, a PSP officer (BS-19), was also transferred and directed to report to the CPO through another notification. Shikarpur SSP Jahanzeb Nazir Khan was transferred and posted as the new SSP East.

Controversy

However, controversy surrounded the IGP’s decision to send Mr Mahar, an officer of good repute, packing as those against the decision found it politically motivated.

They said that Mr Mahar was punished only for performing his duties as a police team had served notices at the houses of the suspects facing the Rs35bn money laundering case.

They added that the FIA did not have required force and they merely pasted notices/summons at the Bilawal House in Clifton and Ms Talpur’s house in Defence and just took its pictures.

They said that in compliance with the SC directions, the Gulistan-i-Jauhar and Gizri police forcefully served the summons to ensure their appearance in court in Islamabad in the case.

However, a senior police officer conceded that the police might “overdo” things in order to ensure compliance of the apex court’s order.

The senior officer said that instead of transferring the Karachi police chief an FIR could have been registered against such policemen for harassment.

He said senior police officials ‘resisted’ action against their junior fellows who were merely complying with the SC orders.

Meanwhile, the newly appointed city police chief said curbing street crimes and improving emergency response of the police to address citizens’ complaints would be some of his top priorities.

Published in Dawn, August 9th, 2018