Row over police chief’s appointment resolved after PM-Murad meeting

Updated January 28, 2020

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Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah calls on Prime Minister Imran Khan in Karachi on January 27. — Photo courtesy PID
Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah calls on Prime Minister Imran Khan in Karachi on January 27. — Photo courtesy PID

KARACHI: A surprising drop in political temperature in Sindh was witnessed on Monday when Prime Minister Imran Khan not only cancelled his scheduled visit to the Central Police Office (CPO) but also gave a “positive gesture” to Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah’s request for replacing incumbent Inspector General of Police Syed Kaleem Imam.

The prime minister and Sindh chief minister met at the Governor House and after their meeting many believed that the weeks-long rift between the centre and the province had almost come to an end and chances that Mr Imam would continue to hold the office of the IGP had become bleak.

Governor Imran Ismail was also present in the meeting.

Before the meeting, the PM was originally scheduled to visit the CPO to inaugurate a martyrs’ monument, Yadgar-i-Shuhada, as well as a recently-renovated building.

The PM cancels his scheduled visit to CPO; new IGP to be picked from three names sent by Sindh govt

“But the PM’s engagements were rescheduled and it did not include the visit to the CPO,” said an official when asked about the reasons behind the sudden change of plans, already finalised last week.

“We are bound to convey official reasons which were communicated by the PM Office. The PM cancelled his visit to the CPO due to time constraints and other key engagements in the city, which included back-to-back meetings and address to a ceremony at the Governor House,” he said.

The shift in the federal government’s stance came little more than a week after Islamabad had categorically told the Sindh government that it would not unilaterally repatriate or transfer IG Imam.

The establishment division in a letter to the Sindh chief secretary had stated that giving charge of the IGP to an additional IG would not be compatible with a 1993 agreement between the federal government and federating units.

Earlier, the Sindh government in its Jan 16 letter to the establishment secretary had stated that “till the time a new IGP is posted, the government of Sindh will assign look-after charge of the post of IGP to an additional IGP (BS-21) currently working in the province”.

However, in response to the province’s letter, the federal government in its letter dated Jan 17 pointed out that “the look-after charge of the post of IGP Sindh cannot be assigned to any additional IGP of police working in the province being not covered under the inter-provincial agreement of 1993”.

Sources privy to the fresh development said that they had reasons to believe that the centre and the province had almost resolved the issue though political rivalries and differences between the two sides might remain for several other reasons.

The PM did not only “hear the arguments from CM Shah for a change in the police command” but also agreed with them to a large extent. The Sindh governor also supported CM Shah’s case, the sources said.

“So, most likely the new IG Sindh would be appointed from the three names — Ghulam Qadir Thebo, Mushtaq Ahmed Mahar and Dr Kamran Fazal — proposed by the provincial government,” said a source.

“CM Shah was of the view that any hurdles from the centre or from other segments of the state to the administrative issues of the province would not only create problems for the working machinery of the whole province but also shake the confidence of the provincial government. The PM was supportive of Mr Shah’s views and results of such an understanding may lead to a few decisions soon,” the source said.

Published in Dawn, January 28th, 2020