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Nasir Durrani’s resignation bodes ill for police reforms

Updated October 11, 2018

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Nasir Durrani's resignation jeopardise prospects of introducing reforms in Punjab. — Photo/File
Nasir Durrani's resignation jeopardise prospects of introducing reforms in Punjab. — Photo/File

LAHORE: A day after rumours of resignation by the much-hailed police reforms chief, Nasir Khan Durrani on Wednesday confirmed the move that seems to jeopardise the prospects of introducing police reforms in the province.

The office of the Commission on Police Reforms and Implementation in Punjab chairman in the GOR-I was closed down on Wednesday after he refused to resume his work, an officer told Dawn.

Five police officers, including Counter Terrorism Department Punjab Additional IG Rai Tahir, DIG Headquarters Shahzada Sultan and Islamabad police’s former SSP Najeebur Rehman, also left the place, he said. He said although Mr Durrani cited health reasons in his resignation, he was upset after the abrupt removal of Punjab IGP Mohammad Tahir.

He lamented that the efforts to grant autonomy to the police force of the largest province suffered a major dent, for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s former IG was considered the best choice to materialise it on the pattern of KP.

Another officer said there was uncertainty and unrest after five IGPs of Punjab have either been transferred or removed in less than four months. As for the fresh incident, he said, IGP Mohammad Tahir managed to get his slot back after the Election Commission of Pakistan suspended the notification of Amjad Javed Saleemi as next head of the police. Mr Saleemi is most likely to be brought back after by-elections on Oct 14, he said.

He said the government would have to face another legal problem in accommodating Mr Saleemi as another strong candidate, former IGP retired Capt Arif Nawaz, is still in the race for the same slot. Mr Nawaz was appointed by the federal government on June 3 for three years on the directions of the Lahore High Court chief justice Mansoor Ali Shah. Back then the government had given an undertaking to court that his appointment had been made for a period of three years.

The official said the case of Mr Nawaz to reinstate him on his previous posting was still pending with the apex court and the next date of hearing is Oct 18. He further said the removal of IGP Tahir once again brought the appointment criteria defined in the Police Order 2002 for the posting of head of the police force to the limelight.

The section 12 of Police Order 2002 categorically states, “The term of office of Provincial Police Officer, Capital City Police Officer and Head of a Federal Law Enforcement Agency posted under Article 11 shall be three years from the date of his posting.”

The successive governments committed violation while making appointment of regular IGs in recent times. Out of the five, the appointment of two IGPs was suspended by the state institutions and two others faced the wrath of the political governments.

A controversy surfaced when the Establishment Division appointed Punjab’s acting IGP Usman Khattak as regular provincial police officer (PPO) on July 18 last and the LHC suspended the notification for violation of Police Order 2002. The government appointed additional IG Operations Arif Nawaz as the police head.

As the general election approached, the four IGPs of all the provinces were replaced during the caretaker set-up with a promise to bring them back after the election. Of them the IGPs of KP and Balochistan resumed their positions after the PTI formed new government.

In the case of Punjab, the government preferred a new choice by appointing Mohammad Tahir as head of the police force on Sept 7 out of the panel of three candidates shortlisted for the purpose.

Published in Dawn, October 11th, 2018