—ED says removal of provincial police chief is in line with election watchdog’s rules
—IGP Khan was transferred as he refused to remove police officers involved in Model Town incident
ISLAMABAD: The Establishment Division (ED) on Wednesday urged the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to withdraw its notification suspending the transfer of Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) Muhammad Tahir Khan.
The ECP had suspended the government’s decision to replace Tahir Khan with Amjad Javed Saleemi as the Punjab police chief on Tuesday, stating that the transfer violated the commission’s directives of September 3, that banned postings and transfers of government officials in the wake of the by-elections. It had also sought an explanation from the government.
The government, however, differed in its Wednesday reply, with the Establishment Division stating that “ECP’s order is not a hindrance in the transfers and postings of police chiefs”.
In a letter to the election watchdog, the Division said, “The ECP had advised against transfers and postings in districts where by-polls are scheduled to be held, however, the Punjab IGP’s transfer was made in accordance with the law after consultation.”
As opposition parties called the [now-suspended] transfer an attempt at pre-poll rigging, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) insisted that the decision to remove the IG was based on merit. Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that Tahir Khan’s failure to follow government orders was the reason behind his removal. “We have given a clear message to the bureaucracy that we want work done,” said Chaudhry, adding that Tahir Khan had demonstrated a careless attitude towards institutional issues.
Moreover, the police chief was asked to remove police officers, involved in the Model Town incident, from their current posting, which, however, was refused by the IG, saying the matter was sub-judice and removal would demoralise the police force. Reportedly, he subsequently transferred some of the officials upon government’s insistence.
In a press conference, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry corroborated these reports, saying the government resorted to removing Tahir Khan as no headway was being made in Model Town incident despite Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar’s directives. “In the present government’s tenure, only those who perform will continue to serve on their positions,” he had said in Tuesday’s press conference.
Saleemi, who is reportedly a close relative of Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar, was appointed a police chief only a month ago. After a shuffle in the police force in September, Saleemi was replaced in Sindh by Syed Kaleem Imam who was the then Punjab IGP.
Tahir, who was the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) IGP at the time, was appointed as Punjab’s police chief. Salahuddin Khan assumed the position of KP’s police chief.
On the other hand, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb alleged that the government’s decision to replace the Punjab police chief just days ahead of by-elections was aimed at rigging the October 14 by-polls.