There never is a dull moment for the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) administration in Punjab as staffing shakeups have become a regular fixture. This time, it is the Punjab Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Amjad Javed Saleemi who has to say his goodbyes to his post a little too soon. The government has replaced him with Federal Narcotics Control secretary retired Capt Arif Nawaz as the new head of the provincial police force.

Perhaps former IGP Amjad Javed Saleemi can take comfort in the fact that he is not the first person in his position who has been removed by the Punjab government. The new IGP Capt Nawaz is the fourth IG since the PTI came to power some eight months ago. There has always been some controversy or the other which has necessitated a shuffling of these powerful positions. This time, the reason for the removal of the IGP seems very political- according to reports, the Prime Minister was irked by the IGP’s handling of the arrest of Hamza Shahbaz by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). The Punjab Police was noticeably inactive during the clash that occurred between NAB and PML-N factions at the scene of the arrest, leading to the Federal Government’s displeasure at the unwarranted delay in provision of timely assistance/security to the NAB raiding team. This, coupled with the rumours that Mr Saleemi was sympathetic to PML-N, may have been the last straw for the government.

By law, the government is within its rights to dismiss the Head of the Police if it doesn’t feel comfortable with their work. Yet if the government wants to function efficiently, it needs to learn how to accommodate the needs and sentiments of the Police as well. The many dismissals and clashes with the Police do not reflect a positive working relationship between the two institutions. There will be some inevitable political leanings in the Police- the Punjab police have been under PML-N for more than a decade- and understandably, the government has some conditions and a standard of work that it expects from the Heads of Police. Yet, by continuously removing and appointing new IGPS, particularly for political reasons, it is not doing much to restore faith in the government among police factions.

The constant reshuffling of cabinet and executive members, similar to that of Donald Trump’s administration, only causes uncertainty and instability. The government needs to learn how to work with the more troublesome and defiant of its institutions.