KARACHI - The provincial government will be introducing the Sindh Police Act, 2017 to replace the Police Act, 1861, Sindh Law Minister Ziaul Hasan Lanjar said Thursday. The new law will be developed along the lines of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police Ordinance, 2016, the minister claimed.

Under the proposed law, the chief minister — instead of the inspector general of police (IG) — will be the head of a new Sindh Police Authority. The home minister will be his deputy, while the IG Sindh, the home secretary and the provincial advocate general will be "members" of the authority, the minister added.

Lanjar told reporters Thursday that the Sindh government had decided to introduce the Police Act, 2017 because the prevailing Police Act of 1861 as well as the Police Act of 2002 were both "flawed".

He also said that under the proposed police service cadre, the tenures of IGs would be reconsidered and deputy superintendents of police (DSPs) would be recruited directly.

The minister said that proposals have been received for amendments in the service structure of the police force. "Serving and retired police officers have been taken on board in connection with the proposed legislation," he claimed.

Lanjar rejected the impression that the provincial government is amending laws to remove the incumbent IG, A.D. Khawaja, or to limit his powers. He claimed that the government is sincere about ushering in large-scale reforms in the department.

"We want to introduce the act to benefit the masses," Lanjar insisted, adding that a community policing system would also be established at the provincial level.

The Sindh administration, it seems, is particularly adamant about clipping the wings of the police department and bringing it under its thumb.

Over the past few months, relations between Sindh’s rulers and its police chief have been strained, with the political administration unhappy with the IG for not ‘toeing the line’.

On Monday, a major shake-up in the province’s police hierarchy was announced and several senior officers, including the Karachi police chief, were changed. However, while transfers and postings of officers are nothing out of the ordinary, in this case what was particularly odd was that the Sindh police chief was not consulted by the PPP government.

In a letter, IG Khawaja is said to have officially complained that the police's performance was ‘badly affected’ due to the frequent transfers and postings of officers in large numbers without any consultation with senior police officers.

In this situation, if any untoward incident took place, the home minister might be held responsible for it, sources quoted the police chief as saying. They additionally said the police secretariat (CPO) had almost become ‘paralysed’ in the absence of DIG Headquarters, DIG Finance and other senior officers.

The Sindh government’s earlier decision to remove Khawaja from his post — which was subsequently challenged in the Sindh High Court and stayed by it — was seen by some as the PPP's strategy for the upcoming general election.

Khawaja is known to have developed serious differences with the bigwigs of Sindh's ruling party on issues relating to the removal/posting of police officials before by-elections in some constituencies. His stance on a businessman said to be a close associate of PPP leader Asif Zardari and insistence on recruitment on merit in the police department have also run him foul of the PPP.

In December 2016, the IGP had also been sent on “forced leave’ by the provincial government. Sources at the time said PPP leadership was not happy with the IGP over many issues, including his refusal to accept illegal demands of people close to the ruling party.