At centre of controversies, Faisalabad ex-CTO ‘enjoyed political backing’

Updated 20 Nov 2020

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Former Faisalabad CTO Hassan Afzal. — Photo courtesy City Traffic Police Faisalabad site
Former Faisalabad CTO Hassan Afzal. — Photo courtesy City Traffic Police Faisalabad site

LAHORE: Faisalabad former chief traffic officer Hassan Afzal, who was removed from the post on Wednesday over his ‘wilful absence’ from duty during the VVIP movement of Prime Minister Imran Khan during his visit to the city, had got the posting on “political recommendation despite a track record of negligence”.

Mr Afzal was made an officer on special duty (OSD) following the episode that caused embarrassment to the regional police officer (RPO) concerned as well as the provincial police chief.

Negligence in such a high-profile security assignment during the prime minister’s visit to the city prompted the IGP to take action against Mr Afzal.

The Blue Book, a classified official document, mentions a comprehensive security plan for movement of VVIPs, including the president and the prime minister. Any negligence by a police officer in this regard is treated as a ‘gross misconduct’.

The officer remained absent from duty during PM’s visit

An official privy to the reason behind the Faisalabad CTO’s removal told Dawn that as per the plan, IGP Inam Ghani, RPO Raja Rifat and some other senior police officers were to receive and accompany PM Imran Khan to the venue of a ceremony he was scheduled to address.

The official said the CTO’s absence shocked the senior police command after it got reports about traffic mismanagement on the VVIP route of the premier.

During an inquiry, it was further embarrassing for the officers when they came to know that the CTO, instead of ensuring his presence on the route, had sent a few staffers of traffic police boarding an official van there.

The official said that in the presence of the PM, the RPO complained to the IGP about the ‘inability’ of Mr Afzal to handle important assignments. The RPO also apprised Mr Ghani about various other public complaints against Mr Afzal and requested him to appoint a competent officer as the Faisalabad CTO, he added.

He said the Faisalabad deputy commissioner, who was also present, endorsed the RPO’s views.

The official, questioning the criteria for appointments against senior positions, said Mr Afzal had been at centre of controversies during his earlier postings as well.

He was of the view that Mr Afzal, a BS-18 officer, was too junior for Faisalabad CTO post, and some senior police officers had raised objections to his appointment as traffic manager of the third largest city of the country.

The official said as Mr Afzal enjoyed backing of some political figures, the IGP ignored the ciriticism and posted him as CTO.

He said that earlier, when Mr Afzal had managed to get posting as the Jaranwala SP in 2019, “thanks to his influential backers”, he was suspended from service and made an OSD over mishandling violent protests following the death of a citizen during a police raid.

The then IGP had taken action against Mr Afzal and some other police officers of Jaranwala, including a DSP an SHO in the light of the report of Faisalabad city police officer (CPO).

He added Mr Afzal was also made an OSD over some issue during his posting in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

When contacted, the IGP termed the CTO’s removal a routine change and refused to comment further on the issue because it involved the PM’s security.

Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2020