The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) led Sindh government’s decision to remove Inspector General of Police Allah Dino Khawaja from his post backfired on Monday after the Sindh High Court (SHC) suspended the notification through which his services were terminated. On the same day the SHC also ordered a stay against the handover of Ibn-e-Qasim Bagh to Bahria Town. Two setbacks in two highly publicised cases; the PPP must not be happy.

However it does seem they have bought it all upon themselves. The Ibn-e-Qasim Bagh was a simple transaction had the government not exercised its executive powers in isolation and had consulted with the rest of the provincial government. Similarly, the Sindh IG decision is clearly one of executive overreach, and arguably the more serious of the two. This case was not the just the provincial government going beyond its power by removing the incumbent police IG against the rules, it was done in contempt of a previous SHC decision barring the government from removing Mr Khwaja.

The government claims through its advocate that it retains all powers to appoint and dismiss bureaucrats like police IGs – and it rightly does. But once a legal question has been raised over the right application of law, which procedure to follow, and a dismissal stayed, the government cannot go against the decision of the court. Nothing justifies contempt of court, no amount of administrative expediency or belief in the strength of you case. This is a cardinal rule of government and law, and it is a shame that Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah who has built himself up as a ‘clean’ and ‘uncontroversial’ politician had to resort to such methods.

The fact that the provincial government was willing to risk contempt of court to get rid of Mr Khawaja seems to lend credence to the reports of the extent of the disagreement between the PPP and the police IG – and especially to the nature of it. Sources claim that Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah took the decision after differences emerged between his administration and IG over multiple issues related to recruitment, appointments and transfers/postings in the Sindh police – namely that Mr.Khawaja didn’t indulge the government’s undue demands.