LAHORE - The suspension of Additional IGP Arif Mushtaq, the Kasur district police officer and two deputy superintendents of police following the country’s biggest child sexual abuse case was unearthed is nothing but a tactic to ease the mounting pressure, an official in the home department averred.

On the instructions of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Additional IGP Arif Mushtaq DPO Kasur Rai Babar Saeed, DSP City Hassan Farooq and DSP Special Branch Asghar Dogar were suspended for showing negligence in the Kasur incident.

“Suspension is no punishment, but to stop an officer from discharging his official duties,” said the home department official, requesting anonymity. The act of suspension should not be taken as an assumption of guilt, the officer said, adding it might prove an effective measure for the protection of the officer concerned from further allegations.

A former police inspector, Shahid Mehmood, said the suspended police officers consider the period under suspension as the honeymoon as they enjoy all facilities for performing no duty.

Moreover, sources in the S&GAD said suspension means nothing but posting of an officer against a newly created post of OSD (officer on special duty). The OSD officer, if civilian, is entitled to all facilities except an official vehicle, some deduction in the salary like travelling allowance etc. He said the suspended officers avail themselves of all other facilities like official residence, full salary and services of grade-IV employees. But if the officer belongs to a security force like police, he even enjoys van facility from vehicles pool or from other officers’ official fleet.

They said, initially, the officer is suspended for three months and if the period is not extended, he is automatically reinstated. The only embarrassment the officer faces is lack of protocol, authority and social status. The act of suspension deprives the officer concerned of his powers, but in Pakistan it does not impose any restrictions regarding entry to police premises or clubs etc. However, the suspended officer has to abide by the police regulations, including professional behaviour, and comply with lawful orders, policies and procedures.

Citing famous Anita Turab case, another official said no officer could even be posted as an OSD let alone suspending other facilities. He said the officer might be transferred to another location from the present place of posting.

Suspension of an officer from police duties is authorised by Police Conduct Regulations. When a complaint or allegation is filed, suggesting that an officer has committed a serious breach of the code of conduct or a criminal offence, it is open to the authority to consider placing that officer under suspension, said the officer.

When asked what the fate of the police officers suspended in Kasur abuse case would be, the official said after a couple of weeks, they would be duly posted against important slots after the wrath of the victims’ families defused. Citing dismissal of former Islamabad SSP Muhammad Ali Nekokara from service, he said, action was taken against him over his refusal to stop the PAT protesters after they advanced to Constitution Avenue. It was the only example that a PSP officer faced a major penalty.

Suspension of police officers and then their reinstatement and posting against key posts was a futile exercise, maintained the official, adding there was a need to set up police safety commissions mandatory under Police Order 2002, otherwise lack of check on the force, after abolition of district magistracy by former president Gen Musharraf, and political interference would give birth to Kasur-like tragedies, he added.