• GB force protecting Imran, alleges minister
• Punjab IGP denies any such confrontation
• Ministers say few personnel attached to CM, ministers’ protocol present in Lahore

GILGIT/LAHORE: In a bizarre turn of events, the federal government on Wed­nesday transferred Gilgit-Baltistan Inspector General of Police (IGP) Muhammad Saeed from his post following allegations — levelled by the information minister — that GB police personnel were being pitted against Punjab police as the latter attempted to arrest PTI chief Imran Khan from his Zaman Park residence in Lahore.

The GB police chief’s swift removal came as a surprise, especially after the Punjab police chief denied that any such confrontation had taken place.

According to the notification issued by the Establishment Division, “Mr Muhammad Saeed, a BS-21 officer of Police Service of Pakistan, presently posted as Inspector General Gilgit-Baltistan, is transferred and directed to report to the Establishment Division”.

Another notification said: “Dr Ali Khan Khattak, a BS-20 officer of Police Service of Pakistan presently working under the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, is transferred and posted as Inspector General Gilgit-Baltistan, under section 10 of Civil Service Act, 1973.”

Earlier in the day, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb had claimed that a “Gilgit-Baltistan force” was being used to attack Punjab police “who are trying to implement court orders to detain Imran Khan”.

Responding to PTI allegations that law enforcement personnel were firing on Mr Khan’s supporters gathered at Zaman Park, she said the law enforcement officials deploy­­ed there were unarmed.

Waving a copy of the warrant issued against Mr Khan, she claimed that at least 65 policemen were injured while attempting to implement the court orders.

Punjab police denial

However, when Dawn attempted to verify the Centre’s claim regarding confrontation between police personnel from Punjab and GB, the provincial police chief termed these reports “baseless”.

Talking to Dawn, Punjab IGP Dr Usman Anwar said no clash or confrontation occurred with GB police anywhere in Zaman Park, adding that GB policemen had not pointed their guns at Lahore police personnel.

“When Lahore police was engaged for the purpose, the GB police had gone (back),” the IGP said.

In a farewell message to his force, the outgoing GB police chief said that during his two-year tenure, he had tried to discharge him responsibilities to the best of his abilities, to solve the problems of Gilgit-Baltistan police and make necessary reforms.

Mr Wazir said that if there had been any deficiency at the administrative level, “then I apologise for it.”

Reaction from GB

Addressing press conference, GB information minister Fatehullah Khan and finance minister Javed Ali Manwa rejected the allegations leveled by the federal government that GB police personnel were deployed at Zaman Park to protect Imran Khan.

They said “very few” GB police personnel were present in Lahore alongside GB Chief Minister Khalid Khurshid Khan, Advisor to Chief Minister Syed Sohail Abbas and Advisor on Interior Shams Lone.

They said the GB police personnel in Zaman Park were the bodyguards of the chief minister and his cabinet colleagues.

Fatehullah Khan said GB government has not deployed any police personnel in Zaman Park adding that the men who were there were doing their job protecting senior government functionaries.

Separately, Leader of the Opposition in GB assembly Amjad Hussain Advocate claimed at another news conference that police personnel from the region were being used for “anti-state activities”.

He called for registering a case against Chief Minister Khalid Khurshid for using GB police against the state and called for an investigation into who had ordered GB police deployment at Zaman Park.

“The CM has no right to use GB police for his political agenda. He is misusing the resources of the state,” Advocate Hussain said.

Meanwhile, GB CM Khalid Khurshid rejected the allegations levelled by the government, terming them “baseless”. Speaking to Dawn.com, he said the GB police force was not being used against anyone.

“At present, the responsibility of [ensuring] my security falls with the Punjab police. My own security was removed upon reaching Zaman Park,” he said, adding that his security detail was stationed at a distance of six km from his location.

Malik Asad in Islamabad also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, March 16th, 2023

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