The Sindh government on Saturday once again asked the federal government to post Sardar Abdul Majeed Dasti as the new police chief to replace Inspector General of Police A.D. Khowaja.
It proposed a panel of three grade-22 officers to the Establishment Division for appointment to the post including, in order of seniority, Dasti, retired Capt Arif Nawaz and Mehr Khaliq Dad Lak.
However, the Sindh government's letter to the Centre noted that Nawaz and Lak have been recently been posted as IG Punjab and additional director general Intelligence Bureau, respectively. It said both police officers' transfers and postings will be affected by tenure limitations set out by the Supreme Court in the Anita Turab case.
It further said that Mehr Khaliq Dad Lak has previously never been posted in Sindh and hence lacks experience about the "dynamics of this province".
The provincial government therefore deduces that Dasti is the only grade-22 officer who can be considered for appointment to the post of Sindh police chief.
According to the letter, the Sindh cabinet has approved the posting of Dasti as IG Sindh, and he should therefore replace the incumbent IG A.D. Khowaja, a grade-21 officer.
On December 30, the provincial cabinet had agreed to remove Khowaja from his post and put forward a panel of three PSP officers to the federal government to consider them for the post. The three names included Sardar Abdul Majeed PSP (BS-22), Ghulam Qadir Thebo PSP (BS-21), and Dr Kaleem Imam PSP (BS-21).
However, the federal government earlier this week asked Sindh to submit a panel of three grade-22 officers instead.
Tug of war between Khowaja, Sindh govt
The PPP-led Sindh government had twice tried to remove IG Khowaja from his post — first in December 2016 when it sent him on forced leave and then in April 2017 when it surrendered his services to the federal government and appointed Dasti, then in grade-21, as the provincial police chief.
Civil society organisations had approached the Sindh High Court against the removal of Khowaja and on Sept 7 the court ruled that the IGP would complete his term, which could not “under any circumstances be reduced to less than three years” if the provincial government amended or altered the rules at any time.
The provincial government and the PPP bigwigs were not happy with the court decision and moved the Supreme Court in October to challenge the SHC ruling
Sources said that they wanted to remove him because he made such rules which, if accepted in the present form, could eliminate political interference in the police department.
Sindh Services Secretary Mohammad Riazuddin while briefing the cabinet last year had said that the IGP was a grade-22 post, but Khowaja was a grade-21 officer.
He said Khowaja was posted on March 12, 2016 on an own-pay-scale (OPS) basis. However, Dasti was promoted to grade-22 and his services had been placed at the disposal of the Sindh government. He was made an officer on special duty (OSD), the secretary said.
He said that the Supreme Court had returned all officers posted on an OPS basis to their original posts and, therefore, the posting of IG Khowaja was in violation of the apex court’s orders.
IG Khowaja, however, said that when he was posted as the Sindh police chief with the consent of the provincial government by the federal government, the apex court’s judgement against OPS officials was in vogue, which showed that the Centre was mindful of the fact.
He added that since 2005 some 17 IGs had been posted in Sindh and 14 of them were in grade-21. Only three officers were in grade-22, he added.
He pointed out that the IGPs in all the provinces and the director general of the Federal Investigation Agency all were in grade-21. Recently, he said, the Punjab IG was promoted to grade-22.
He said this pattern showed that there was no hard and fast rule to post an official of either grade-21 or grade-22 as the IGP.