–Amjad Saleemi retains command of Punjab police despite Sahiwal tragedy, Sri Lankan team attack, Joseph Colony arson among other incidents tainting his career
–IGP’s spokesperson says such incidents happen in every tenure; govt appointed him on merit, following due course of procedure
LAHORE: Several Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) officials have been sacked following the joint investigation team’s (JIT) preliminary report of the Sahiwal incident but one lucky cop has yet again managed to stay safe from the mess created under his watch.
Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) Amjad Javed Saleemi, who replaced Mohammad Tahir in October 2018, was given the reins of the police department to “reform it once and for all”; however, lesser known are the facts of the lucky top cop’s rather questionable career.
SRI LANKAN TEAM ATTACK:
Saleemi was among the “negligent police officers” who in a judge’s report were criticised for being ill-prepared, poorly equipped and incompetent in their efforts to prevent the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team bus in 2009.
Justice Shabbar Raza Rizvi of the Lahore High Court (LHC) had panned the then Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Saleemi for “dereliction of duty” after the latter had admitted he was not sure whether police officers in the area of the attack were even on duty. “Obviously he (Saleemi) would have only known … if he himself were there,” Rizvi had written.
“He made contradictory statements before me and did not have the moral courage to state the truth.”
JOSEPH COLONY MOB ATTACK:
An enraged mob torched dozens of houses located in Joseph Colony – a Christian-dominated neighbourhood of Lahore – in March 2013 while Saleemi served as the Lahore Capital City Police Officer (CCPO). The mob attacked at least 116 houses, 18 shops and two churches in Badami Bagh police precincts following allegations of blasphemy against a Christian man.
SIALKOT DISTRICT JAIL CARNAGE:
Three civil judges and five prisoners were killed and two judges critically wounded inside the Sialkot District Jail in 2003 when police raided the prison to free 10 judges taken hostage by the prisoners.
Saleemi was the Sialkot district police officer (DPO) when the tragedy struck.
SULTAN RAHI’S MURDER:
Famous actor Muhammad Sultan Khan aka Sultan Rahi was murdered in 1996 back when Saleemi was appointed as the Gujranwala SP. The actor was murdered by “robbers who tried to loot him and his friends”; however, the case Saleemi was responsible to crack, remains unsolved till date.
“Despite the events that taint Saleemi’s career, his appointment as IGP is safe as home owing to the bond he shares with several political bigwigs, especially Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar,” sources told Pakistan Today.
They said his relationship with the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader was more than a guarantee for him to retain the top slot of Punjab police amid the government’s claims of upholding merit and transparency while also reforming the infamous department.
It is noteworthy that the sudden appointment of Saleemi, who was Punjab’s second IGP in two months, had also stirred controversy as it was followed by the resignation of Nasir Durrani, who had recently been appointed by Prime Minister Imran Khan to introduce reforms in Punjab police.
“Such incidents happen in every [officer’s] tenure,” spokesperson to the IGP, Nabila Ghazanfar, said while speaking to this scribe.
When asked about Saleemi’s relationship with Governor Sarwar and other political leaders, she said that a public servant enjoys good relations with every government. “Being a public servant, he has to comply with orders and work for the entire government, not a single individual.”
Nabila refrained from commenting over Saleemi’s appointment as the police chief despite the incidents that blemish his policing career. However, she said, “If the government has made this decision, it must be on merit, after considerations and following the due procedure.”