• Mohsin Butt, Ghulam Nabi Memon and Sanaullah Abbasi are strong candidates for top slot
• Kamran Fazal appointed acting police chief

KARACHI: After Karachi was rocked by three consecutive blasts in as many weeks claiming six lives, including three Chinese faculty members of Karachi University’s Confucius Institute, apparently heads began to roll on Wednesday as Inspector General of Sindh Police Musthaq Ahmed Mahar (a grade-22 officer) was removed from the post and Dr Kamran Fazal (a grade-21 officer) was appointed as the acting police chief of Sindh.

While Dr Fazal is going to retire in July, sources said that incumbent Balochistan IG Mohsin Butt, Karachi police chief Ghulam Nabi Memon and former director general of the Federal Investigation Agency Dr Sanaullah Abbasi were strong candidates for the post of IGP-Sindh.

They said that there had been differences between the outgoing police chief and the provincial government over some issues and the recent blasts in Karachi provided solid grounds to remove him and the coalition government at Islamabad facilitated the move.

A notification issued by the Establishment Division stated that Mushtaq Ahmed Mahar was transferred and asked to report to the division with immediate effect.

Another notification issued by Sindh Chief Secretary Dr Sohail Rajput stated that Additional-IG Dr Kamran Fazal was assigned to hold ‘acting’ charge of IGP-Sindh till further orders.

An official statement issued by the Sindh chief minister’s spokesperson said that IGP Mahar had relinquished his post and acting IGP Dr Kamran Fazal had assumed his new responsibilities.

Soon after taking over the charge, the acting IG called on Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah at CM House.

“The CM issued directions to the acting IGP about law and order in the province and adopting an effective policing. Necessary steps should be taken to control present wave of terrorism,” Mr Shah directed the acting IG.

PPP unhappy with Mahar

The transfer of the police chief comes as Karachi has been hit by a spate of terrorist attacks in which six people were killed and abound two dozens injured.

Although officials insisted that it was a ‘routine transfer’, the sources familiar with this development said the political masters were ‘unhappy’ with Mr Mahar, who was appointed in February 2020.

The IGP was conspicuous by his absence in a recent meeting chaired by the chief minister to assess the law and order situation after the three terror incidents.

A source said: “The PPP leadership was not very happy with Mushtaq Mahar and Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, in particular, had differences with him.

“He was being pulled in different directions and the PPP was perhaps not happy that he was not loyal to them.”

However, the sources added that Mr Mahar had served in difficult circumstances and had to balance between the strained civil-military relations and the ongoing tussle between Sindh government, the PTI and the Establishment.

The differences between the outgoing IGP and the chief minister became more strained when the personal security officer (PSO) of the chief minister was not promoted by the promotion board concerned. The IGP was a member of the board.

A police officer, who wished not to be named, said that Mr Shah had thought that by not supporting promotion of his PSO in the concerned board, the outgoing IGP had cast ‘aspersions’ on him.

A senior officer, who also wished not to be named, said that in Sindh and other provinces, transfers/postings of the police officers were still governed by ‘colonial legacy’ despite passage of 75 years as the successive governments did not want ‘professionalism, merit and organizational growth’ in the police.

“The rulers wanted police to serve their regime and ‘entrench’ their political power and business interests.”

The officer regretted that ‘general perception’ was that when the outgoing IG Sindh lost ‘trust’ of the political masters in Sindh, he lately started running his office from his home as he was least interested in “the institution’s professional growth, reforms, merit and capacity building”.

The officer said that although the acting IGP had family background in police as his father had remained DIG and father-in-law as IG police, Dr Kamran’s promotion from grade-21 to grade-22 had been ‘deferred’ for three times because of some undisclosed reasons.

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2022

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