LAHORE: The Punjab government finally removed Gujranwala Regional Police Officer (RPO) Riaz Nazir Gara and Divisional Commissioner Gulzar Hussain Shah from their positions in the wake of the Daska by-election controversy.
The action was taken against both officers of the Pakistan Police Service and the Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS) in compliance with the recommendations of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
The commission, in its strongly-worded recommendations, had demanded removal of both the officers from the posts on complaints of alleged rigging , aerial firing to harass voters and mismanagement, particularly, on the polling day in the NA-75 of Daska.
The Election Commission not only held the officers responsible for the security lapse but also declared the election null and void, causing embarrassment to the federal and provincial governments of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).
Action taken in compliance with recommendations of ECP
An official, privy to the development, said the sword of major punishment of suspension was still hanging over the two other officers, Sialkot Deputy Commissioner Zeeshan Javed Lashari and District Poilce Officer Hassan Asad Alvi.
The ECP’s recommendations were for both the federal and provincial governments to take action against the officers in question.
For removal of the regional police officer and the commissioner, it had issued directions to the Punjab government while for the suspension of the Sialkot deputy commissioner and the district police officer, it had sent recommendations to the Establishment Division, Islamabad.
Meanwhile, the election commission, in an rare move, also summoned Punjab Inspector General of Police Inam Ghani and Chief Secretary Jawad Rafique Malik on March 4 over negligence in the Daska election.
The official lamented that the both officers – Riaz Nazir Gara and Gulzar Hussain Shah – were transferred or removed unheard as neither of them was called by any inquiry panel of the Election Commission or any other probe launched by the Punjab government.
He also criticised the role of the inspector general of police and the chief secretary for not taking up the matter with the government for a proper inquiry before any action against both the officers of BPS-20.
The matter of these two officers should have been followed by them in power corridors to convince Chief Minister Usman Buzdar for giving them (the RPO and commissioner) an opportunity of sympathetic hearing in the inquiry concluded by the ECP, he said.
Instead of backing or supporting the officers, the official said, the chief secretary and the IGP moved summaries separately to the CM for their transfer.
The CM approved the summaries and the notifications for the transfers were issued on Monday.
“What’s the purpose of appearance of the IGP and the CS before ECP on March 4?” the official asked.
The premature transfer/removal of BS-20 officers has shocked the PAS and PSP community and may demoralise other officers in Punjab who are feeling them insecure due to frequent transfers in senior cadres.
According to the notification, Riaz Nazir Gara and Gulzar Hussain Shah were directed to report to the Services and General Administration Department for further orders.
Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2021