Updated Sep 13, 2018 08:12am

Punjab CM did not influence Pakpattan DPO's transfer: IG Punjab's report

Haseeb Bhatti

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar was only acting as a mediator and did not attempt to influence the police amidst the Pakpattan controversy that eventually led to the transfer of District Police Officer (DPO) Rizwan Gondal, former Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) Syed Kaleem Imam told the Supreme Court in his inquiry report on Wednesday.

The report, submitted in the apex court today, stated that the chief minister had indeed summoned the police officials concerned without informing the IGP, but proceeded to act "only as an elder" to mediate between the parties in conflict.

The CM was very hospitable towards the police officers and during the meeting, which he "hosted", the report states, the policemen were not harassed or pressurised in any way.

Imam, in his report, further observed that the Punjab CM neither issued any written orders or gave any directives pertaining to the DPO's transfer.

Instead, the report said, Buzdar had told the RPO to settle the issue himself, which "makes it clear that there was no interference in policing matters".

However, the report noted that DPO Gondal had felt that he was being "interrogated by a stranger" in the presence of the RPO and the CM during the meeting.

While DPO Gondal was displeased at being called to the CM's office, the report says, he had not complained of being harassed or pressurised in the meeting.

The report recommended that, in the future, Punjab CM go through the provincial IGP to summon any police officials instead of doing so directly.

Suo motu

On August 31, Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar had taken suo motu notice of the transfer of DPO Gondal, allegedly over the Pakpattan police's altercation with citizen Khawar Fareed Maneka, who is the ex-husband of First Lady Bushra Imran.

During the hearing of the case, Manika had alleged that some policemen had misbehaved with his daughter on August 5.

The CJP had remarked that the court was sorry over the mistreatment suffered by Maneka's daughter at the hands of police.

"The court apologises on behalf of the nation," Justice Nisar had said, but also ordered the then Punjab IGP to launch an inquiry into the mistreatment and interference in the matter of Gondal's transfer by political personalities.

The meeting

The report compiled by Kaleem Imam, who is now the IGP Sindh, suggested that Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar had summoned the relevant police officers through his PSO at 10pm without taking the IGP into the loop.

The chief minister had also invited Ahsan Jameel (a Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader from Gujranwala and close friend of Maneka) to his office.

According to the report, a meeting was subsequently held between the chief minister, the PTI leader, the RPO Sahiwal and the DPO in the committee room of the CM's office.

PTI leader in the meeting

During the meeting, the Jameel had complained about the incident and the refusal of the police to address the "mistreatment" meted out to the Maneka family.

Jameel, the report said, also highlighted that the policemen had held the hand of Maneka's daughter and threatened the family.

He had also expressed suspicions that Maneka's brothers — who the family believed to be associated with a rival political party and were not on good terms with the family after Bushra's wedding with the PTI chief — had played a role in the entire episode.

Khawer Maneka's children had been under the impression that there was a conspiracy behind the entire episode, it emerged during that meeting.

According to the report, Ahsan expressed his anger that the complaint was not addressed as he believed that the incident had unnecessarily deepened a divide in the Maneka family.

'Not befitting a DPO to apologise in person'

The report stated that the DPO had confidently clarified his position on the issue before the chief minister and the RPO.

He had also made it clear to Jameel that if it was being expected that he would go to Maneka's dera (residence) and apologise in person, he would not be doing so.

The report quoted Rizwan Gondal as saying that "DPOs don't go to the deras of people".

According to the report, the DPO had been miffed at the idea of meeting a stranger (Jameel) as he felt it had been an attempt to pressurise him. He had felt like a stranger was grilling him in the presence of the chief minister and the RPO, the report elaborated.

CM hosts meeting but doesn't take part in discussion

The report gave a clean chit to the chief minister and mentioned that he had not taken part in the discussion between Ahsan and DPO Gondal.

Instead, Buzdar had limited himself to serving food to the participants of the meeting. The report quoted the RPO Sahiwal as saying that the meeting was held in a pleasant atmosphere.

According to the report, the chief minister had only arranged the meeting so Jameel could express his concerns and had Gondal summoned so that the issue could be resolved as per his tribal customs (an 'elder' arbitrating between parties in conflict).

The report states that the police officers were not harassed during the meeting, nor were they made to feel any pressure.

Findings of the report

The report also gave a clean chit to Jameel, concluding that he had not committed any offence per se and had also rendered an apology for his role in the matter.

"He attended that meeting in the capacity of an aggrieved party," the report said. It also mentioned that no action had been taken on the complaints made by the Maneka family despite several messages being sent to do so.

According to the findings of the inquiry, the chief minister had asked the RPO to resolve the issue on his own which is indicative that it was not tantamount to interfering into the affairs of the police department, the report said.

Recommendations

The report concluded that the chief minister should not summon any police officer directly, instead and if needed, police officers should be summoned through the IGP.

It also recommended barring police officers from entering the Chief Minister House without clear directions from the IGP to do so. The complaints submitted to the chief minister's office should instead sent to the IGP for redressal, it added.

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