LAHORE: An unprecedented situation surrounding the Punjab police since last week’s massive reshuffle, wherein the IGP refused to work for being bypassed in the matter, took a surprising turn on Tuesday as the federal government appointed Inam Ghani as new Inspector General of Police — the sixth police chief of the province since the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) came into power two years ago.
Mr Ghani was holding the post of additional IG of south Punjab and had earlier served as additional IG Operations in Punjab. He is from Malakand district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Outgoing IG Shoaib Dastagir had stopped working after Umar Sheikh was posted as Capital City Police Officer of Lahore and soon after taking over as CCPO, Mr Sheikh, during a meeting with senior police officers, allegedly spoke against the provincial police chief.
Mr Dastagir reportedly met the prime minister and the chief minister and sought a probe into the alleged misconduct by the new CCPO and appropriate action. Otherwise, he said, he should be transferred to some other position.
Shoaib Dastagir removed after rift with junior
Things did not stop here as the newly appointed IGP faced an embarrassment on the day one of his posting when additional IG Finance Tariq Masood Yaseen refused to work under his command.
In a letter, Mr Yaseen claimed that Mr Ghani was junior to him and requested the Punjab government for his transfer from his present slot with immediate effect.
“Till the time a decision is made, my case may be placed before the new IGP for the kind of leave due to him,” reads the letter by Mr Yaseen.
Hours before the change, over 50 senior police officers gathered at the Central Police Office to express solidarity with Mr Dastgir. Also among them were almost all senior PSP officers working in the capital city (Lahore) police.
An official source said Mr Dastgir’s stance irked the Punjab chief minister as well as the prime minister who ultimately transferred him. The prime minister during a meeting in Islamabad briefed the cabinet on the development and got support from his team to remove Mr Dastgir.
A notification issued by the Cabinet Division said Mr Dastgir, who is a BS-22 officer of the Police Service of Pakistan, had been transferred and posted as secretary of the Narcotics Control Division with immediate effect. A separate notification added that Inam Ghani, a BS-21 officer of the Police Service of Pakistan, had been made new provincial police officer.
Some senior police officers were concerned over this prevailing culture, saying that no such practice was witnessed when the PTI government had prematurely transferred four police officers. Retired Capt Arif Nawaz served at the same position for seven months, Mohammad Tahir for one month, Amjad Saleemi for six months and Kaleem Imam for three months.
A senior official said the senior police officers had gathered in so much numbers just to “protest” the decision of the government ordering the transfer of Shoaib Dastgir and posting of Umar Sheikh as CCPO Lahore.
Interestingly, the Lahore police’s officers were also present in the same meeting and a majority of them resolved there not to work under the newly appointed CCPO for ‘disgracing’ Punjab police’s outgoing commander Shoaib Dastgir.
The official said the Lahore CCPO also reached the Central Police Office to join his colleagues “to show solidarity” with the outgoing IGP. He said the police officers present there barred him from entering the venue.
The series of unpleasant happenings in Punjab police has deepened the disciplinary crisis as the police circles believed that such episodes would inflict a major dent on the unity and chain of command and the public would be the ultimate sufferer. Frequent transfers have already rattled the police force on field duty.
The official further said that the posting of a BS-21 police officer against the BS-22 slot would also bring some problem for Inam Ghani as the Police Order 2002 had categorically defined the posting criteria for the slot in question.
Another major challenge that he is going to confront would be the security of tenure as no police officer could complete his term as Punjab IGP so far.
The official said presently more than 10 serving police officers were available in BS-22 in the country who were either bypassed or ignored for the top slot of the Punjab police.
Published in Dawn, September 9th, 2020