KARACHI: Days before the arrival of Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, Sindh Police Inspector General AD Khawaja has gone on leave, reportedly after pressure by Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah.
Additional IG Mushtaq Mehar has reportedly been given charge of Khawaja's responsibilities.
Moreover, sources revealed that the provincial government is considering the names of senior police official Abdul Majeed Dasti, former Karachi police chief Ghulam Qadir Thebo and Mushtaq Mehar for the post of top cop. They said that the provincial government would soon finalise the name and request the federal government to appoint the new Sindh Police IG.
Khawaja's unexpected 'removal' just days after PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari's announcement regarding Asif Ali Zardari's return to Pakistan has sparked a new debate among political analysts.
The Sindh government on Monday asked IG Khawaja to go on leave and hand over the charge to Additional IG Mushtaq Mehar until further orders, police sources told Daily Times. However, Mushtaq Mehar has denied being given any additional responsibilities. "I haven't received any notification so far, therefore I can't comment on it," he said.
AD Khawaja worked as the Sindh Police IG for only nine months after taking charge in March 2016. At that time, Khawaja was working as an additional inspector general, and had been asked to lead a three-member fact-finding committee to inquire the allegation of corruption, illegal appointments in the police department and a lack of transparency in allocation of cost of investigation to investigation officers on the directives of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
On the basis of the findings made by the committee, the SC ordered the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to probe alleged corruption in the Sindh Police. Ghulam Hyder Jamali was subsequently sacked and AD Khawaja made the new IG.
"Being an honest and straightforward officer, he had disappointed the PPP-led provincial government," a source said, adding that the PPP would now request the federal government to remove Khawaja and appoint another IG.
Rumours had been circulating that the provincial government and some members of the ruling PPP were not happy with AD Khawaja. He has strongly opposed the practice of 'selling' police jobs and proved to be a hurdle in political appointments in the department, which was unacceptable to some elements in the ruling party, sources said.
Khawaja had also restricted the police officials in Badin from pressurising growers to sell sugarcane to a particular sugar mill only. Sources said that the Sindh government had been opposing Khawaja for many reasons, but things heated up when he refused to reappoint a notorious police officer as Malir senior superintendent of police (SSP). The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)-led federal government is still supporting AD Khawaja and has asked him to work on the post, despite opposition by the provincial government.