KARACHI                 -           In a scathing rejoinder to criticism of the PPP government over withdrawing services of Inspector General of Police (IGP) Dr Kaleem Imam, Sindh government spokesperson Murtaza Wahab said here on Thursday that Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah had taken Prime Minister Imran Khan into confidence before seeking the removal of the police chief.

“Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) accusation that the decision to remove the IGP is unilateral is based on a lack of knowledge,” he said while speaking at a press conference.

He added the procedure was followed before surrendering the services of Dr Imam.

Murtaza asserted that the chief minister had told the premier that the cabinet had no confidence in the IGP, and the process of his removal should be initiated as the ruling party in Sindh was facing criticism.

“The chief minister had aired reservations over the IGP during his meeting with the prime minister and informed him about members of the Sindh cabinet, having no confidence in the provincial police chief,” Murtaza explained.

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader, however, stated that the IGP could be restored in the same rank if the federal government consults the provincial government. “The [provincial] cabinet has a consensus that the IGP has lost his credibility,” he stated, while complaining that it was argued that a unilateral decision was taken in this case.

“There are concrete reasons for sending IGP Sindh home […] law and order situation has deteriorated over the last year,” the Sindh government spokesman said, adding that people had lost their lives in 12 police firing incidents and the crime rate had increased.

The spokesperson further stated that the provincial government would inquire “If anything goes wrong as the police are independent, but answerable to the government.” “All of us are required to follow the Constitution […] five IGPs were changed in Punjab and four IGs in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP),” he said, while complaining of no criticism on those decisions.

Murtaza pointed out that whenever the Sindh government inquired about the crime rate, the IGP would claim that “everything is alright.” “Does the Sindh government make a mistake while asking him? […] no government employee can hold a press conference,” he said, adding that police officers had been in a hurry for holding pressers.

The Sindh government spokesperson regretted that a “private man” was allowed access to a killer of 96 individuals.

Reacting to the announcement that PTI has decided to approach the court against the removal/transfer of IGP Kaleem Imam, the spokesman said that PM Imran Khan had also telephoned Sindh Governor Imran Ismail to discuss the same matter, and directed him to take all stakeholders into confidence. Sources familiar with the matter told the media that despite complaints against senior police officers, including Additional IGP, SSPs, SPs and ASP, the provincial government had taken no action against them.

They said that differences had emerged between the provincial government and the Sindh Police.

Sources informed that SP Fida Shah had been involved in illegal postings as well.

Sindh govt forwards three names to Centre for slot of IGP

Earlier, the Sindh government forwarded three names to the Centre for the appointment of new inspector general (IG) of police for the province. These were Ghulam Qadir Thebo, Mustaq Meher and Kamran Fazal. The provincial cabinet, on Wednesday, had approved the removal of Kaleem Imam as the Sindh IGP. The cabinet stressed that nominated person, Thebo, “is an officer of a good reputation, and had worked on various positions in the province.” The chief minister said that he would like to keep the police separate from the politics. He asserted that the police chief should refrain from giving political statements. “Any SSP or police officer who is fond of politics should do politics,” he added.

The reasons for Imam’s removal were stated as his alleged non-cooperation with the Sindh government, failure to implement directives issued by the CM House, and frequent absence in key meetings of the government. Dr Syed Kaleem Imam was appointed as the inspector general of Sindh police in September 2018.

PTI, MQM-P blast Sindhgovernment

Separately, major opposition parties in Sindh—Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan—came down hard on the provincial government for a bid to remove Dr Kaleem Imam as the IGP.

Addressing a presser here at Insaf House on Thursday, PTI Central Vice President Haleem Adil Shaikh said that rulers of Sindh were defaming the police and for a couple of days they had started a ‘poisonous’ drive against the department.

He said that the Chief Minister had himself hailed the police few days ago by terming Karachi ‘a safe city’. “Will the chief minister deny the services of Sindh police for restoration of peace in the megacity,” he asked.

The PTI leader reminded that the crime was on the rise in Karachi from 2008 to 2013, but it was the PPP that gave two tenures to Babar Khattak and Fayaz Laghari as the provincial police chiefs. “The gang war was patronized and promoted in Karachi from 2008 to 2013, while the PPP was in the government. Target killings and kidnappings for ransom were at their peak in Karachi, but the PPP did not blame IGPs at that time around.

The MQM-P Parliamentary Leader in the Sindh Assembly Kanwar Naveed Jameel condemned the government’s decision and said the crime ratio had dropped to a certain degree in the provincial capital after Dr Imam’s posting as the IGP.

Kanwar was of the view that Dr Imam was being replaced as he had refused to comply with the provincial government’s ‘unlawful’ directives. “Imam had decided to bring reforms in the department as well as he took strict action against miscreants of interior parts of the province but it was not acceptable to Sindh government,” he said.

The MQM-P’s parliamentary leader in Sindh Assembly said the provincial government was also curtailing funds allocated for purchase of arms and ammunition of police. He demanded that entire amount earmarked should be released at the earliest.