The Sindh cabinet on Wednesday decided to ask the establishment division to replace Sindh Inspector General of Police Dr Syed Kaleem Imam. Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf's leaders in Sindh, on the other hand, were quick to point out that it is the federal government that holds the power to recommend who the next Sindh IG should be and not the provincial government.
Speaking to the media after the meeting, Sindh Information Minister Saeed Ghani said that a number of reasons for the current IG's removal have piled up.
"Today's meeting was held after the Sindh government had written a letter to the IG on December 13 to inform him of their intention to get the establishment division involved in the matter," Ghani said.
Discussing some of the reservations the provincial government has with Imam, Ghani said: "At certain points, the Sindh IG gave some irresponsible statements regarding transfers and postings."
"Furthermore, the IG kept writing letters to various embassies directly. According to the rules, a police chief cannot directly write letters to embassies. If one has to conduct any such correspondence, it needs to happen through the foreign office or through the provincial government's administrative body," the minister added.
Ghani also mentioned the "mishandling" of the Bisma and the Dua Mangi kidnapping cases as one of the reasons for the cabinet's decision. "Dua Mangi's family was not ready to cooperate with police regarding her kidnapping and once she had returned, the Sindh chief minister had to give a number of assurances in order for them to record their statement with the police."
Ghani also mentioned the Irshad Ranjhani case, "This case was mishandled by the IGP, he resisted the arrest of the police officials responsible for Ranjhani's killing. This resulted in rioting all over the province and four people also lost their lives in Larkana."
"The IG has given several statements regarding him not being able to choose his own team. However, in reality, I can assure you that at least in Karachi, from the additional IG to any SSP, all transfers and postings have been made on his recommendation."
"I am telling you about a few of the incidents that caused the cabinet to make this decision, the list is very long," Ghani said.
He then went on to say that the Sindh government is bound to send three names for the establishment division to choose from. "And they are bound to pick one name. This is the due process, which could be simpler if provinces are given the power to conduct their own transfers and postings."
"In the past, a number of IGs have been replaced in Peshawar, Punjab and even the federal capital without any reason given, in our case, we are actually giving concrete reasons for our request. This is why, we believe there should be no problem in replacing the current police chief," Ghani said.
Asked to share the names likely to be recommended by the Sindh government, Ghani said the names of Ghulam Qadir Thebo, Mushtaq Mahar, Kamran Fazal and Sanaullah Abbasi were among the top choices.
The cabinet also requested the chief minister to initiate disciplinary action against Imam by sending a detailed statement, with proof of his misconduct, to the establishment division.
PTI jumps into the fray
Soon after Ghani’s press conference, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leaders spoke to the media, where they stressed that they wouldn’t let the IG be removed “come what may”.
Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly and PTI MPA, Firdous Shamim Naqvi, said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had also contacted Sindh Governor Imran Ismail to discuss the issue.
“Honest police officers are being victimised,” said Naqvi, alleging that this was part of the PPP’s plan for pre-election rigging.
“The local government elections are coming up and this is part of the pre-election rigging plan,” he claimed.
Naqvi, who was flanked by PTI Sindh president Haleem Adil Sheikh and other party lawmakers, said that the rules did not allow the Sindh government to recommend any names for the post of IG.
“The federal government recommends the names, not the provincial government,” he said, while waving what was presumably a copy of the law.
“The Sindh govt has done what we feared it would do when the Police Act was being passed,” said Sheikh.
“They want to make the police ‘aunty corruption’,” he said, accusing the provincial government of wanting to post its favoured personnel on coveted posts in the police department.
Sheikh said that the provincial government must reveal the ‘compelling reasons’ they were citing, adding that “we will not let this happen.”