'Sindh government is with its police in their difficult time,' CM says in meeting with top brass

Updated 21 Oct 2020

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Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah meets senior police officers, led by Inspector General of Police Mushtaq Mahar, at the Chief Minister's House on Wednesday. — Photo courtesy CM House Twitter
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah meets senior police officers, led by Inspector General of Police Mushtaq Mahar, at the Chief Minister's House on Wednesday. — Photo courtesy CM House Twitter

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Wednesday assured the top brass of Sindh Police that the government would not let the force be demoralised under any condition.

"Sindh Police has given huge sacrifices to establish peace in the province [...] I am well aware of their services, sacrifices and professional skills," Shah said. "Sindh government is with its police in their difficult time. We will not let police be demoralised under any condition."

Shah made these remarks during a meeting with Sindh Inspector General of Police Mushtaq Mahar, additional inspectors general and deputy inspectors general at the Chief Minister's House, a day after the PPP-led government averted one of the worst administrative crises.

On Tuesday, Sindh IGP, at least two additional inspectors general, seven deputy inspectors general and six senior superintendents of Sindh police decided to go on long leave in protest over the Oct 19 siege of Inspector General House that brought the law enforcement agency and security establishment in direct conflict, as PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari asked Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa to order an institutional probe into the incident.

COAS Bajwa directed the Karachi Corps Commander to "immediately inquire into the circumstances to determine the facts and report back as soon as possible".

According to the applications — all of which were identical — submitted to IGP Mahar, the officials said that it had become hard for them to "discharge [their] duties in a professional manner" due to the stress caused by Safdar's arrest.

In a late night statement, however, Sindh Police said IGP Mahar had decided to defer his own leave and ordered his officers to set aside their leave applications for 10 days in the larger national interest, pending the conclusion of an ‘impartial inquiry’ ordered by the army chief.

'Strong response': Twitter lauds collective leave applications by top Sindh Police officials after Safdar's arrest

During today's meeting, Shah asked the police to "continue their professional services with full zeal", saying that the Sindh government would "look after the rest".

He added that the provincial government has always asked the police force to act independently.

"Sindh Police [officials] paid with their lives to establish peace in the province, particularly in Karachi. They have made huge arrests in important cases of terror acts.

"Sindh Police should continue working independently and objectively."

The chief minister added that the government was taking steps to make the police force more stable.

The statement added that the police officials thanked Shah "for guiding and standing with them at every stage".

Later in the day, the Sindh Assembly also passed a resolution "express(ing) serious concern and reservation over the unfortunate incident". The house also paid a "glowing tribute" to the Sindh police force for its contribution to restoring peace and maintaining law and order in the province.

The resolution further said that "dozens of senior police officers including the IG Sindh" had decided to go on leave after being "demoralised" by the incident, adding that the timely intervention by PPP chief Bilawal and CM Shah, the province was "saved from a major administrative crisis".

Shah also reiterated the provincial government's support for the police during his address in the Sindh Assembly and said that party chief Bilawal had instructed him to find out who was behind the episode.

Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah speaks in the Sindh Assembly. — DawnNewsTV
Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah speaks in the Sindh Assembly. — DawnNewsTV

He also talked about the first information report lodged against PML-N leader retired Captain Mohammad Safdar saying that "undue pressure" was exerted on Sindh police to register a "fake case". Earlier this week, Safdar was booked and arrested in a case pertaining to violation of Quaid's mausoleum, where he had raised slogans. The PML-N leader was subsequently released on bail hours after his arrest.

"We all respect Quaid-i-Azam's mausoleum and if something had happened you could have followed proper procedure," Shah said in the Sindh Assembly today.

"This is not the first time something like this has happened. PTI people have come here many times [...] there are videos as well."

The arrest

On Monday, Safdar, who was staying at a hotel with his wife Maryam Nawaz, was arrested for "violating the sanctity of the Quaid's mausoleum" a day after the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s Bagh-i-Jinnah rally.

Following Safdar's arrest, a purported voice message by PML-N leader and former Sindh governor Muhammad Zubair was shared by a journalist in which Zubair alleged that the inspector general of police was kidnapped and forced to register the first information report against Maryam, her husband Safdar and 200 others for violating the sanctity of the Quaid's mausoleum.

In the audio clip circulating on Twitter, Zubair said that Chief Minister Shah confirmed to him that police was pressured into making the arrest. "When they (police) refused to do that, Rangers kidnapped [the IGP]," Zubair said.

PML-N vice president Maryam had also alleged that the Sindh inspector general of police was forcibly "taken to the sector commander's office and asked to sign on the arrest orders".

Demoralised police

CM Shah had told a presser on Tuesday afternoon that a ministerial committee would investigate the mysterious ‘circumstances’ that led to the early morning raid on the hotel room of Maryam Nawaz and arrest of her husband, but defended the police action once an FIR had been lodged against him.

However, the presser failed to convince the police hierarchy that was in low morale following the Oct 19 episode, compelling the PPP chairman to address a media conference on the issue.

Shah had also accused PTI lawmakers of a “conspiracy” to pressure police to book the son-in-law of ex-premier Nawaz Sharif and alleged that the complainant of the FIR enjoyed support from the PTI leadership.

Sharing findings of the police investigation to prove the alleged mala fide intention behind the move of the ruling party at Centre, Shah said: “The PTI MPAs under a preplanned conspiracy brought a proclaimed offender at the police station and got him to lodge a fake FIR against Capt (retired) Safdar.”

He explained that leaders of the opposition PML-N, including Capt Safdar, visited Mazar-i-Quaid to pay tribute at around 4:30pm on October 18. “The CDR [Calls Detail Report] of complainant Waqas Ahmed shows that at 4:30pm on October 18 he was at Baqai University, off the Superhighway. When the complainant was not present on the spot, at the Mazar, how did Capt Safdar threaten him with dire consequences?”

In an attempt to woo back the “demoralised” and “shocked” police force, the PPP chairman along with CM chief minister and provincial ministers visited the IG residence later in the night. Bilawal shared a picture of his visit on Twitter showing him in a group photo with IG Maher, senior police officers and Sindh ministers. “I stand in solidarity with Sindh Police, do you?” he tweeted.