LAHORE: The Central Police Office (CPO) is in a fix as it is finding it hard to select a ‘suitable candidate’ in BPS-21 for appointment at the South Punjab Police Office (SPPO) while the CM Secretariat has created only one slot of the police head, compared to 150 of the civil service.

One of the major reasons for the situation is stated to be discrimination towards the Punjab Police as Chief Minister Usman Buzdar created the sole postof the south Punjab police officer (SPPO) that also without ‘mini-secretariat’ but created over 150 slots for officers of Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS) for the region, including additional chief secretary (ACS), secretaries, deputy secretaries and section officers to provide them a proper secretariat in Bahawalpur.

The SPPO will head the force of nearly a dozen districts of three police regions, including Multan, DG Khan and Bahawalpur regions. The districts include Multan, Vehari, Khanewal, Lodhran, Bahawalpur, Bahawalnagar, Rahim Yar Khan, Dera Ghazi Khan, Muzaffargarh, Rajanpur and Layyah. As per the last census, the total population of the region is over 34m while the district police force’s strength in the southern districts is approximately 30,000.

Feel discriminated against by getting one BPS-21 police post compared to 150 of bureaucracy

CM Buzdar created only one seat of theSPPO from amongst five senior positions, pledged in the summary, a senior officer privy to the development told Dawn. He said the SPPO was supposed to supervise the regions/district police through his secretariat from Multan as was elaborated in the summary.

The summary to this effect was moved by the CPO in October 2018 to the CM for creation of five new slots -- one BPS-21, two BPS-20 and two others of AIGs.

According to the proposed scheme, the SPPO was to be assisted by a deputy inspector general (DIG) police and two assistant inspectors general (AIGs).

Similarly, a separate vacancy of a DIG was also to be created in order to improve the estate management function of the CPO besides providing the region the supporting staff, including section officers, clerks etc.

“The high command of the Punjab Police is in an immense shock to find the government’s height of discrimination towards the police while and having soft corner for the bureaucracy while making announcement of regional secretariats for both the groups,” the officer said.

He added that the lone police officer without important sections, including its regional headquarters, development wing and the relevant staff would not be able to run the entire south Punjab and the SPPO would have to face too many problems in absence of other police officers demanded in the initial summary.

“It doesn’t make any sense to dispatch a police officer of BPS-21 from the CPO to take his office as SPPO with his few official guards instead of being provided with a secretariat,” the official said.

In the absence of his proper regional office/secretariat and staff, the police personnel and officers of that region would have to depend upon the CPO Lahore either through correspondence or travel.

In these circumstances, the CPO is finding it challenging to appoint a police officer under the powerful dominance of the rival cadre of the civil service of Pakistan, the official said.

So far, he said, some senior police officers were under consideration for the slot in-question. They included Addl IG Internal Accountability Branch Azhar Hameed Khokhar, Addl IG Training Shahid Haneef, Addl IG Logistics and Procurement Ali Aamir Malik, Addl IG Establishment B.A Nasir, Addl IG Elite Police Farooq Mazhar and Addl IG Commandant Police Training College Chuhng Ehsan Tufail. Addl IG Operations Punjab Inam Ghani may also be one of the candidates of the said slot.

Earlier, there were some reports that he has been making efforts for the slot of IG Punjab after the transfer of Amjad Javed Saleemi as provincial police officer.

To a question, the officer said that it was yet to be clear whether the SPPO would be independent or entirely dependent upon the CPO Lahore.

As the Punjab government promised to establish an independent secretariat, it was also not sure that the SPPO would report to the CM directly or would send his summaries (for transfer/postings or any other administrative work) through chief secretary/home department.

“For this, the Punjab government will have to go for an amendment to the rules of business for clarity, which has not been done so far,” the officer said, adding that the set of confusions in this regard had baffled the CPO Lahore and senior command of the police.

Published in Dawn, June 29th, 2020