LAHORE - The power tussle between a group of top police officers and the provincial government is growing in Punjab after the federal government abruptly transferred the provincial police officer to entertain a blue-eyed officer.

Punjab Police Inspector General Muhammad Tahir on Wednesday skipped an important official event where Chief Minister Usman Buzdar was the chief guest. The police chief reached his office on Wednesday morning instead of attending the scheduled passing out parade of women recruits held at the Chuhng Police Training College. However, Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and a few senior officers attended the ceremony.

Official sources revealed that the provincial police chief deliberately skipped the event to protest against the decision of the federal government. Insiders say several officers have expressed their anger over the transfer of Mr Tahir who was removed from the top slot just 32 days after he took over as chief of the largest law enforcing agency.

On the other hand, Chairman Punjab Police Reforms Commission Nasir Khan Durrani resigned from his position hours after the government removed the Punjab police chief. Mr Durrani, the former provincial police officer of the Khyber PK province, was given the task by PM Imran Khan himself to bring reforms in the Punjab Police a couple of weeks ago. His resignation has literally shattered the government’s plan to reform the corruption-riddled police in the most populated Punjab province.

It was not clear yet why the government transferred the provincial police chief within a few weeks. Opposition parties say the IGP was removed from his position because he refused to give clean chit to the son of a provincial minister after the Lahore police registered a criminal case against him. However, police sources revealed that the IGP had also rejected the request of a senior politician who wanted to get posted some officers of his choice as district police officers.

On Tuesday, the federal government transferred Muhammad Tahir and posted Amjad Javed Saleemi as the new police chief in the Punjab province. However, the notification regarding the transfer of Mr Tahir was suspended by the government shortly after the Election Commission of Pakistan raised objection over the abrupt transfer ahead of by-polls.

A senior police official who spoke to The Nation on the condition of anonymity said that the latest controversy had also created uncertainty among the police hierarchy. “The power tussle is growing in the Punjab province since some ministers and senior police officers are at loggerheads,” the official said.

Some police officials believe that the government was planning a major reshuffle in the police bureaucracy to fit “blue eyed” officials on key posts. “Abrupt transfers and postings always create uncertainty and mess. The policy of immature postings and transfers must be discouraged. The practice of political interference in police affairs must end,” an official said.

Meanwhile, Punjab IGP Muhammad Tahir on Wednesday chaired the Regional Police Officers conference at the Central Police Office to finalize security strategy for the upcoming by polls.

Lahore CCPO, all RPOs, CPOs, and DPOs attended the conference via video-link. However, Additional-IG Abu Bakar Khuda Bakhsh, RPO Gujranwala Shahid Hanif, Additional-IG (CTD) Muhammad Tahir Rai, Additional-IG Sajjad Hassan Manj, DIG Special Zaeem Iqbal Sheikh, and Babar Bakht Qureshi were present in the conference.

On this occasion, the IGP said that the implementation of the code of conduct devised by Election Commission of Pakistan for by-elections should be ensured at all costs in respective districts. The police chief ordered his force to remain impartial while performing security duties during the by-polls. The police were also ordered to take strict legal action against the persons found involved in aerial firing, display of weapons, and violation of Loud Speaker Act.

The IGP further said that officers and officials deployed on sensitive polling stations should remain on high-alert and perform their duties with full commitment and patriotism and, “All these officers and officials deputed on polling duties should be provided fresh food and water bottles.” Also, the IGP ordered Punjab-wide crackdown, under the supervision of DPOs, against the criminals involved in heinous crimes including murder, dacoity, and kidnapping for ransom.