LAHORE - The police big guns seem to save the skin of former Punjab top cop Zulfikar Ahmed Cheema for his whistle-blowing write-up based on baseless allegations of ‘sexual harassment’ at a training centre.

The former chief of the National Highways and Motorways Police (NH&MP) had levelled baseless allegations of harassing female trainee officials at a police academy in Sihala. Ironically, the ex-IGP without checking the authenticity of a so-called letter published it “as it is” in his column in an Urdu daily.

The Former IG reproduced the letter written by an anonymous female under-training police officer who claimed that there was no discipline in the training center and female trainees were being forced to get involved in immoral activities.

Following the episode, Punjab IGP Mushtaq Ahmed Sukhera constituted a high-level inquiry team which found that the allegations of sexual harassment of under-training women sub-inspectors were totally baseless, unfounded, and concocted.

Reportedly, the inquiry committee was headed by Additional-IGP Establishment Naseem-ul-Zaman and comprised Punjab Constabulary Commandant Husain Asghar and SSP Akbar Nasir. The police chief had ordered an independent inquiry into the sex-scam even as there was no formal complaint by any quarter regarding the sexual harassment of the women officers by the college administration including its commandant.

It was reliably learnt on Tuesday that Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mushtaq Ahmed Sukhera is in a fix whether the department should initiate a legal action against Zulfikar Ahmed Cheema or he should be given a simple warning.  

A senior officer, requesting anonymity, confirmed that the Punjab police department is seriously considering filing a defamation lawsuit against its former top officer for defaming the largest law enforcement agency. He further said that the inquiry team had declared that the scandal was concocted and the result of “professional jealousy.”

It further said that the contents of the scandal published in a section of the press were based on an unsigned letter and during the inquiry they were found to be baseless.

Reportedly, the women trainee officers were so upset over the allegations that many of them were thinking whether to continue with the service or not. The female staff has also sent letters to the Punjab chief minister, the IGP, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and the Ombudsperson for action against those responsible for the smear campaign. “Women aspirant of joining the Punjab police are already discouraged in this male dominated society. Why educated girls would come and join the department when some people like the ex-IGP will launch a smear campaign against the department,” asked a senior officer, who requested not to be named.

He also said that the department should take action against those who are behind this campaign. “Look, if the allegations prove true the department would have to take action against the responsible officers. Why the other side is not penalized now for launching a propaganda campaign,” he argued.

Referring to the accused party he said that “they are also fathers and brothers and have families. And if they are clean those behind the propaganda campaign should be punished,” demanded another official.

Sources in the Central Police Office (CPO) say that some officers raised the issue during a meeting with the Punjab police chief, requesting him to initiate legal action against the former top cop for defaming the policewomen.

A chronic bachelor Zulfikar Ahmed Cheema has been writing columns in a national daily after his retirement. During his service tenure, he was known as a hardliner who triggered controversy with his colleagues on many occasion.

The allegations also created doubts about the integrity of the commandant and his team of officers and trainers selected exclusively by the IGP and the Punjab chief minister for the training of 411 young and highly-qualified officers including 76 women for their integrity and professionalism.