There are some controversies a government cannot avoid. and then there are some issues which it unwittingly allows to thrive. In its first 100 days, PTI has so far been following the rule book as every other party before it has, yet its lack of effective communication has brought upon the party more flack than it deserves.

The transfer of the Islamabad Inspector General of Police (IGP) Jan Muhammad is a good example. His sudden transfer has caused anger among PTI’s supporters and opponents both, with some accusing Prime Minister Imran Khan of interfering and politicising the Police. Social media is rife with speculations over why PTI transferred him- some of them quite incredulous, including the rumour that Senator Azam Swati had the IGP transferred because of his failure to answer his phone call. The uproar has lead Chief Justice Saqib Nisar to suspend the notice for the IGP’s transfer and summon the secretary Interior to justify the decision.

After some radio silence by the government, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry stated that IGPs are answerable to the Prime Minister and Chief Minister and the premier has executive powers to transfer or remove IGPS and deputy commissioners- and indeed he is right. A government has to work with the bureaucracy and the police to implement legislation, and a Prime Minister is well within his rights to remove an official if he does not feel it is a good fit. The order only becomes contentious if it was given with “malicious intent”, and in this case, there is nothing concrete to suggest that this transfer was out of bounds.

Where PTI stumbles is when it tries to cover up its valid orders, and fails to communicate them properly. The party has been critically weak in owning up to its orders of transfers and removals of officials. This is not the first abrupt police transfer under PTI, with Sindh IGP Amjad Saleemi being replaced and DPO Pakpattan’s transfer in September. In this case too, there is uncertainty over who suggested the transfer and why it was done, with secretary interior merely saying that the decision was made because the government wasn’t happy with the IGP’s performance.

The government is within its rights to remove officials it feels are uncooperative or not performing well. Yet it should do so openly and transparently - secrecy and ambiguity only add fuel to the fire.