- Pakpattan DPO’s removal rerun of earlier incidents
It is widely accepted that the country’s bureaucracy in general and police in particular are politicised to such an impossible extent that basic service laws and regulations are brazenly flouted to ensure the posting and transfers of ‘suitable’ persons for convenience of local political-feudal bigwigs. Pakistan’s civil service, once an admirable example of impartiality and competence, has been reduced to wreckage by different dispensations in ignoring merit, appointing nonentities to key positions, favouring loyalty over ability, creating in-service resentment by appointing junior officers to senior positions for vested interests, rewarding the undeserving with promotions while penalising those going strictly by the book. In the police, this has bred pervasive corruption, reputation for brutality and public suspicion and hatred.
But there is a silver lining. Professional, upright and conscientious officers have defied illegal commands and taken a moral stand, despite knowing well they would pay heavily for their ‘insolence’. In August 2014, during the famous PTI sit-in, then SSP Islamabad Mohammad Ali Nekokara was suspended, then sacked, for refusing to use excessive force against protestors, and only reinstated after wandering in the judicial labyrinth for three years. The present high-profile incident, in which the Pakpattan District Police Officer, Rizwan Gondal, was rudely removed from his post on Monday before conclusion of relevant inquiry, for reasons that are, prime facie, far from plausible, smack of the same old potent convergence of local big shot, powerful political connections, pliant government, gigantic egos, touchy temperaments, demands for abject apology, and worst of all, abandonment by one’s superior officers. The unfortunate episode must be déjà vu to the Pakpattan DPO’s superior, the present Regional Police Officer Sahiwal, Shariq Kamal Siddiqui, who was banished from Punjab province in 2016 by direct order of the then PM for daring to raid a PML-N legislator’s place. Without any wrongdoing, both Gondal and Shariq refused to apologise to their antagonists, which would have demeaned their self-esteem and degraded their profession. The PTI information minister has termed the latest condemnable occurrence a ‘minor issue’, but since the strands reportedly lead to close relatives, the PM should step in forcefully to rectify damaging political fallout and avoid future such incidents in the new Pakistan.