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Posting of Sialkot DPO ahead of Daska re-poll raises eyebrows

Posting of Sialkot DPO ahead of Daska re-poll raises eyebrows

LAHORE: Around a week after the three-judge Supreme Court bench upheld the Election Commission of Pakistan verdict for re-polling in the entire NA-75 constituency of Daska, the posting of an officer with “tainted record” as Sialkot district police head has raised many eyebrows.

The appointment of Mr Abdul Ghaffar Qaisrani as new district police officer (DPO) of Sialkot has been questioned in the backdrop of his performance as police head of the same district and of Kasur in the past. The officer was reportedly removed each time over complaints of “mismanagement”, once on the order of the CM and then on the direction of PM Khan.

An official privy to the development said that Mr Qaisrani remained posted as Sialkot DPO in 2018 and Kasur district police head in 2019 during the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government in Punjab. However, he had to be transferred from the both districts reportedly over mismanagement complaints, he added.

In Nov 2018, Mr Qaisrani as Sialkot DPO was made an officer on special duty (OSD), along with the then deputy commissioner Tahir Watoo, on the directions of Chief Minister Usman Buzdar. The action was taken against the officers after the CM’s cavalcade faced some interruption allegedly because of mismanagement on his route during his visit to Sialkot, the official said.

New appointee was twice removed as district police head over complaints

The then inspector general of police, Amjad Javed Saleemi, had replaced Mr Qaisrani with Rawalpindi SSP (Investigation) Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi, the same day.

According to the official, the major reason behind the removal of the officers was said to be a lack of coordination between the staff of the chief minister and the local police and the administration.

Again, he said, in Sept 2019, when Qaisrani was serving as Kasur DPO, he had to face Prime Minister Imran Khan’s wrath after the rape-cum-murder of three minors in the district.

In his tweet on Sept 18, the premier had said the Kasur DPO Abdul Ghaffar Qaisrani had been removed, investigation SP proceeded against, adding that a “major overhaul” was on the cards in the district’s police setup.

“On the Kasur incident: there will be accountability for all. Those who do not perform in the interest of the common man will be taken to task”, the PM had said in his Sept 18 tweet, a day after the police found remains of two children and dead body of another in Chunian tehsil of Kasur district. The minors were kidnapped months ago by unidentified culprits.

The prime minister had also issued order for the appointment of Zahid Nawaz Marwat as new DPO of Kasur, who had been instrumental in solving the Zainab rape, murder case.

The posting of Mr Qaisrani as Sialkot DPO for the second time, when the district was already in the media glare because of the violence and allegedly shady role of police during the annulled by-election of Feb19, this year, has been termed by police circles a risky decision made by IGP Inam Ghani.

However, the IGP seemed confident with regard to security arrangements for the Daska repoll.

Presiding over a video-link meeting at the Central Police Office here on Wednesday to review the security arrangements for the by-elections in NA-75, Daska and PP-84 Khushab constituencies, he said Rangers would also be deployed when required at the sensitive polling stations there. He added that in the both constituencies lady police officials would also be deployed for the security of women polling stations and booths.

Mr Ghani directed the concerned regional and district police officers to go out in the field to ensure security arrangements and use all available resources to hold peaceful by-elections in the both constituencies.

He ordered that additional personnel should be deployed for the delivery of election material, including ballot boxes, after the completion of polling process to ensure safe transfer of the same.

“No candidate or his/her supporters should be allowed to violate the code of conduct issued by the ECP”, Mr Ghani said.

During the meeting, the RPOs of Sargodha and Gujranwala regions and DPOs of Sialkot and Khushab districts briefed the IGP about the respective security plans for holding the by-elections.

Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2021

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