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Police officials wary of frequent reshuffle

May 28, 2012

LAHORE, May 27: Excessive and `arbitrary’ transfers/postings in Lahore police and visible entry of ranker officers in six police divisions since mid-Feb this year have created uncertainty among PSP officers and demoralised them who are seen working `half-heartedly’ because of their uncertain and short tenures and rising interference in matters.

Since the incumbent provincial police chief - Haji Mohammad Habibur Rehman – assumed charge on Feb 17, 2012, the city police have witnessed extraordinary changes in all divisions with replacement of PSP officers by Punjab police officers -- three at senior level and several others at SDPO, SHO and Investigation in-charge levels.

Lahore police authorities are even receiving orders from the Central Police Office to transfer and post officials up to constable level.

Lahore police have so far witnessed 25 major reshuffles in ranks from the SP to the DIG and dozens others in ranks of DSPs and inspectors in the period of 100 days.

There were six divisional SPs from PSP cadre and as many from the Punjab police till May 25. But the ratio remained 70 per cent (PSPs) and 30 per cent (ranks) in the last few years.

Information gleaned from several field officers shows the continuous spate of reshuffle in city police ranks is target-oriented and aimed at accommodating influential and `blue-eyed’ police officers.

They say authorities, while ignoring professionalism and integrity, are making postings haphazardly on recommendations of politicians, judiciary, army, bureaucracy, media and senior police officers.

A new trend of appointing officers outside Lahore police ambit for investigation of cases and inquiries has also surfaced.

A couple of police officers have been transferred merely on non-compliance of orders issued by a high-ranking official of the Central Police Office regarding transfer and postings of SHOs.

According to a senior police officer posted at the CPO, merit-based postings are still a distant dream for Punjab government as well as police authorities.

Quoting an example, he says the recent transfer of Saddar SP (Operations) Muhammad Waheed Athar by IGP Habibur Rehman and posting of SP Muhammad Sharif, who is from ranks and got his promotion some time ago, is evident from the fact that the officers are being picked in violation of merit.

Mr Sharif is real brother of PML-Q MPA from Chichawatni Arshad Jutt.

According to police record, Mr Sharif has served a major chunk of his posting in Punjab Traffic Police cadre and he never served in metropolitan city Lahore.

The officer says the posting of a junior SP, who doesn’t know crime patterns of Lahore, in Saddar division which is notorious for land-grabbing, high crime rate, political interference and VIP movement, is an eye-opener for police authorities.

Similarly, the IG has thrice changed Saddar SP (Investigation) since April 7 and appointed SP for the fourth time a few days ago.

He first appointed SP Mustafa Hameed Malik on April 7 and then suddenly transferred him without any complaint on April 27 and appointed SP Usman Akram Gondal in his place. Mr Gondal was transferred and made OSD on May 12 after he dared to investigate a case against a lawyer. The IGP appointed SP Abdul Qadir Qamar new Saddar SP (Investigation) on May 15.

The second affected division remained city division in which City SP (Operations) Muhammad Anwer Khaitran was first removed on April 27 to accommodate Layyah SP (Investigation) Muhammad Umer Virk who was too transferred and made OSD on May 19 in connection with the attack on Punjab Civil Secretariat. Mr Virk has recently been replaced by SP Multan Khan.

In a latest reshuffle on May 25, the IGP posted SP Athar Waheed as Model Town SP (Operations) in place of Maroof Safdar Wahla who was posted as Cantonment SP (Operations) vice Imtiaz Serwer who was shown the door.

A source at the Punjab Police Headquarters told Dawn that Organised Crime (CIA) SP Capt Liaquat Ali Malik (retired), who got posting around three and a half months ago, was also likely to be transferred as his predecessor SP Umer Virk, a ranker, was being tipped as new CIA SP.

He said the IGP was seriously considering Umer’s name for the slot which was got by a PSP officer second time in the history of CIA police.

The source says recently the murder investigation of lawyer Nasrullah Warraich had been assigned to Mr Virk, currently an OSD officer, and two CIA officers - Fiaz Tunda and Tariq Kiyani- by bypassing Mr Liaquat.

Only two divisional SPs have served more than six months at one post, while the others are having two to three months or even less period.

Another source says Capital City Police Officer Muhammad Aslam Tareen is against frequent reshuffle and has off and on conveyed his reservations to the IG. He quotes CCPO as saying that haphazard transfers negate the concept of team work.

According to a divisional SP, police authorities should expect results from their subordinates only when they are given some time to understand crime dynamics. “What do I feel currently is hesitation in decision making as on the one hand `sword’ of merit is followed but on the other `sword’ of uncertainty also prevails.”

Citing examples, he says the recent `premature’ transfers of SPs Athar Waheed, Usman Akram Gondal and Umer Virk show that police authorities are reluctant to support or encourage officials in the hour of crisis.

Similarly, SSP (Administration) Sarfraz Ahmad Falki, who was earlier posted SSP (Operations), was transferred and posted Chief Traffic Officer on March 1. Mr Falki was again transferred on April 10 and was replaced by Dr Usman Anwer. Mr Falki was then posted as SSP (Admn) on April 11.

SSP Ghulam Mehmood Dogar, who was working as DIG (Operations), invited the wrath of `top police commander’ after the former refused to post a couple of SHOs of latter’s choice and delayed the implementation for a few days. Mr Dogar was also shown the door by the Punjab government on April 30. Though the IG claimed that Dogar was made OSD on allegations of land grabbing, a high-level inquiry later exonerated him from charges.

IGP Habibur Rehman, when contacted, said he was adopting a policy of least interference in transfers and postings across Punjab.

“I don’t believe in excessive reshuffles and go for transfers and postings only with the consent of local commanders. And if I make some transfer and posting of any officer on my own, the officer concerned relinquishes the charge only with the consent of his commander.”

“There is no pressure in transfers and postings of RPOs, CPOs, DPOs, SPs and even SHOs,” Rehman said.

He agreed to an observation that the Punjab police was not implementing tenure postings. “I respect stability in postings and have issued instructions in this regard.”

The IGP said officials of Lahore police transferred, posted and made OSDs in his tenure was not because of his personal involvement, but on the recommendations of city police high-ups.

He said a few reshuffled SPs in Lahore were having `issues’ with them.