CAPT Arif Nawaz
CAPT Arif Nawaz

LAHORE: The government on Monday removed Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) Amjad Javed Saleemi and appointed Federal Narcotics Control secretary retired Capt Arif Nawaz new head of the provincial police force.

Mr Nawaz is the fourth IG since the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf came to power some eight months ago. The move follows Sunday’s removal of some administrative secretaries in Punjab.

A notification was issued, directing Mr Saleemi to report to the Establishment Division in Islamabad for further orders.

Earlier, Mr Nawaz served as the Punjab IGP for 11 months. He has over two years of service remaining. He has also served at other key posts in Punjab, including additional IGP of operations and establishment, besides serving for over three years in Balo­chis­tan.

Outgoing IGP Saleemi served for six months

The premature transfer of Mr Sale­emi, only six months after his appointment as IGP, is being lin­ked to Punjab police’s inaction during a raid of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for the arrest of Opposition Leader in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz from his Model Town residence on April 6.

An official privy to the information told Dawn that the transfer was discussed during the recent visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to Lahore. This was the third time that Mr Saleemi’s transfer was discussed at a high level.

Earlier, there were rumours of his removal when the Sahiwal incident took place. However, he had managed to retain his position using his connections in the Punjab government, the official alleged.

This time, the main factor that contributed to his removal was the matter of the arrest of a key political figure. “There are also some other factors, but the main was an unwarranted delay in provision of timely assistance/security to the NAB raiding team by Mr Saleemi being Punjab IGP,” the official said.

He added that the prime minister expressed displeasure when this matter was taken up with him and was irked at the poor performance of the police and provincial administration. Some relevant quarters had also briefed the PM that Mr Saleemi had a soft corner for the top PML-N leadership that led to the embarrassment for NAB as well as the provincial government during the raid, he said.

PM Khan had also sought reports from relevant agencies before taking the decision of Mr Saleemi’s replacement. The head of a provincial agency was called to the meeting, who briefed the PM and others present there.

The official said the PM had also sought reports from another civilian intelligence agency, which suggested him three senior police officers who could be considered as Mr Saleemi’s replacement. A BPS-22 officer, Mr Nawaz, was tipped as the most suitable candidate owing to his years of service in Punjab police, the official said.

The meeting was also briefed that Mr Nawaz had over two years of service left as he’s set to retire in August 2021.

The two other officers discussed included National Police Foundation Islamabad Managing Director Shoaib Dastgir and National Highways & Motorway Police Inspector General A.D. Khowaja.

The frequent transfers of a provincial police chief had brought under discussion Section 12 of the Police Order 2002 that 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/her posting.”

Published in Dawn, April 16th, 2019