Political appointees in police: magnitude surprised Nawaz


ISLAMABAD: The issue of thousands of political appointments made in Sindh police since 2002 prominently figured at the meeting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chaired last week in Karachi, which decided to launch a targeted operation led by Rangers in the metropolis against criminals.

Based on documentary evidence collected and presented by the federal intelligence agencies, the meeting was told that during the governments — one led by the PML-Q and the other by PPP — well over 10,000 appointments were made in the provincial police department.

From 2002 to 2007, the Sindh home department remained under the control of MQM. But after the 2008 elections, the PPP kept the department with it.

Following this year’s general elections, when the PPP and MQM decided not to join hands in Sindh, they publicly accused each other of stuffing the Sindh police department with their loyalists, which became one of the major causes of bad law and order situation in the city.

Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon, who is also deputy information secretary of the PPP, said it was under retired General Pervez Musharraf when the PML-Q and MQM ruled the province that countless political appointments were made in the police department.

He claimed that the PPP always followed the process for inductions in the police department.

But Zahid Mehmood, a member of the central executive committee of the MQM, accused the PPP of appointing its favourites in the Sindh police department.

Mr Mehmood, who is also a member of the MQM’s central information committee, said it was on record that former Sindh home minister Zulfiqar Mirza inducted in the police department about 2,000 PPP workers, who were known criminals from Lyari.

The issue is not only of political appointments, but the established criminal records of those now wearing police uniform, the meeting was briefed by the intelligence officials.

When the issue came under discussion, Prime Minister Sharif was flabbergasted.

“They are safely in the thousands and when the information was presented during the meeting, Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah had no plausible explanation,” a senior government official who attended the meeting told Dawn.

The meeting was also told that the PPP government had deputed several people in the police department from other provincial departments for no valid reasons.

When Prime Minister Sharif pointedly asked the Sindh chief minister how police could discharge its duty fairly when it has such a large number of political appointees, Mr Shah agreed that in the past political appointments were made in the police department, but contested the figures.

A federal minister told Dawn that after the meeting it was decided that the Sindh government would prepare its own list of police personnel having political connections and who were involved in criminal activities.

Mr Sharif asked the chief minister to take strict action against these officials if his government wanted to bring normality back to Karachi.

Security officials unequivocally told the prime minister that in the presence of such a large number of police personnel who instead of their seniors take orders from their political masters, no operation could produce lasting results.

Later, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan at a press conference said that the only way to move forward was to prosecute and punish some of the Sindh police officials involved in criminal activities in Karachi so that the rest of them could learn lessons.

The meeting also decided to make merit-based recruitments of some 10,000 personnel in the Sindh police department, for whom

the federal government would provide additional resources to the provincial government.

The federal government has asked the Sindh government to take a decision about the future of political appointees.

The meeting suggested creation of a separate pool for political appointees who have no criminal history.