KARACHI - Police on Sunday used water cannons and force against ‘Fix it’ campaigners who were staging a protest outside the Karachi Press Club against the removal of Sindh Police Inspector General AD Khowaja.

The Sindh government on Saturday removed AD Khowaja from the post of Sindh Police inspector general. Sardar Abdul Majeed Dasti was appointed the new inspector general of Sindh Police. Khowaja however refused to comply with the orders, asserting that the federation reserved the right to sack him and not the provincial government.

During Sunday’s protest against Khowaja’s removal, police detained the founder of ‘Fix it’ campaign, Alamgir Khan. Skirmishes between the police and the protesters ensued. Charged protesters gathered outside the Karachi Press Club and heavy police contingents reached there to stop them from staging a demonstration. Activists of the civil society put up resistance when police personnel tried to stop them from marching towards the Chief Minister’s House. Charged protesters stood against the police. In reaction, the police used water cannons, teargas and batons to disperse the protesters.

The Sindh government had recommended three officers for the slot of the IG. However, Dasti took the charge here on Sunday. A spokesman for the Sindh Police confirmed appointment of Dasti as new provincial police chief and said that usually a senior police officer would take the charge in case of removal of the IG. The spokesperson said that IG Dasti was senior than Khowaja. It is worth mentioning here that the federal government remains undecided about the names proposed by the Sindh government -- Dasti, Ghulam Qadir Thebu and Khadim Hussain.

It is also worth mentioning here that the Sindh government had removed Khowaja and sent him on forced leave a few weeks ago. Later, a court ordered the Sindh government to allow Khowaja to perform his duties.

The civil society termed the Sindh government’s decision to remove Khowaja as a contempt of court. If the Sindh government does not withdraw the notification about removal of Khowaja from his post, the civil society will approach the court.

A notice has been sent to the authorities concerned, citing the Sindh High Court’s December 28 order, which restrained the provincial government, as apprehended by the plaintiffs, from removing Khowaja from his post in violation of the Police Order, 2002 and Sindh Government Rules of Business, 1986. Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research Director Karamat Ali said that Sindh government’s decision to remove Khowaja was illegal. He said the SHC had already restrained the government from doing so in its December order in response to a constitutional petition, which was filed by the civil society to end political interference in the police department and make reforms.

DASTI PROMISES TO LEAD

FROM THE FRONT

Dasti, in his first message as acting provincial police chief, assured his department that he would be leading from the front as long as he was in command. “We all are members of a uniformed and disciplined force and understand our allegiance to law,” he said.

He said that all ongoing operations would continue uninterrupted as envisaged in the National Action Plan and the coordination with the Rangers and other law enforcement agencies would be maintained. “Let it be clear that merit will not be compromised at any cost,” he said.

He also chaired a meeting with senior police officers on security arrangements for the death anniversary of Pakistan People’s Party founder and former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and ordered implementation of the contingency plan.