KARACHI, Jan 12: Merit has been set aside in the recruitment process of the police department, with the two major coalition partners in the Sindh government having worked out a formula to fill the seats of constables with people said to be close to the parties, it emerged on Wednesday.

However, both the parties denied coming to an understanding about the political appointments in the capital city police.

Reliable sources told Dawn that Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah during their recent visit to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement headquarters — popularly known as Nine Zero — took along job letters for 676 candidates.

Following the visit and the reversal of petroleum prices, the estranged coalition partner withdrew its decision to sit on the opposition benches in the parliament.

The sources said that ahead of the Prime Minister's scheduled visit to Nine Zero, staff of the CCPO office and other officers worked against time to prepare the job letters.

They added that according to the agreed formula, the Pakistan People's Party and the MQM would enjoy the liberty of inducting 777 and 676 people from their party into the police force.

As there are around 1,900 seats for constables in the capital city police in the current round of recruitment, only 447 seats will be left after the political appointments. However, sources close to the CCPO office said the number of vacancies had not yet been specified.

As the recruitment of constables in the Capital City Police Karachi is currently under way, around 10,000 candidates have applied for the jobs. Physical, written tests and interviews with the candidates are being conducted in different police headquarters of the city.

Among these thousands of candidates were 1,453 candidates belonging to the PPP and MQM quota, the sources said.

They added that medical letters had been issued to the candidates from the respective zonal DIG offices on Tuesday and Wednesday.

After their medical examination to be carried out at the police hospital, the CCPO office would issue appointment letters to these candidates, the sources said.

A senior police officer requesting anonymity said that the general candidates, especially those who are kin of policemen, would grudge the successful candidates their appointments. He said: “It is very likely that some of the disgruntled candidates may go to court against the backdoor appointment.”

When contacted, Adviser to Chief Minister Waqar Mehdi denied that the coalition partners had their quotas in the recruitment process. He said that the hiring was being done on a merit basis. “All the set rules and phases of recruitment like running, written examination, interviews are being followed in the recruitment process in the police department,” the adviser said.

Similarly, Muttahida Qaumi Movement leader Faisal Sabzwari denied that there was any kind of understanding between the two parties on the hiring of police constables. “In the presence of Dr Zulfikar Mirza, how can it be possible?” he asked.

In recent weeks, Dr Mirza has hurled thinly veiled barbs at the MQM, accusing it — not in so many words — of supporting targeted killing in Karachi.

“It's totally a baseless thing to say,” Mr Sabzwari said, adding that only urban and ruler quotas were observed in government jobs.

Sharing his experience in office, former police chief of Sindh Jehangir Mirza told Dawn that he was not able to hire a single man in the police throughout his tenure as the issue of recruitment had become highly politicised.

He remained the police chief of Sindh from January 2006 till his retirement from the service in April 2007.

“When I took over, a list of candidates had already been prepared by an officer, but there were allegations that Urdu-speaking candidates had been named in the list,” he said.

“It was only after our tireless efforts that we succeeded in initiating a new recruitment process in a transparent manner,” he said. Yet the then chief minister and the MQM had objections to the process, he added. He said: “Being the head of the police department, I told them that a lot of effort has been put in to make the process of hiring transparent and that overall recruitment is being done on a merit basis, but then there was no headway in the process till the time I was in office,” he recalled.

“In my opinion, it's better not to do recruitment than to induct bad stuff in the police force, as its repercussions would have to be borne for the next 30 to 35 years,” Mr Mirza mused.


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