April 07 , 2017

Khowaja’s transfer a matter of ego for Sindh govt

ISLAMABAD: The Sindh cabinet’s endorsement of the decision of the provincial government to surrender Inspector General of Police (IGP) AD Khowaja to the Establishment Division was meant only to mollify and massage the ego of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).

It was hundred percent certain that the cabinet’s inconsequential initiative was not going to nullify the stay order issued by the Sindh High Court (SHC) that had blocked the provincial government’s decision of giving the marching order to Khowaja. Only the PPP knows and can explain what it has achieved by showing resistance to the SHC ruling except showing unnecessary and unwarranted defiance to the superior court.

At the federal level, a court decision can be invalidated only through an act of Parliament, but generally successive governments have avoided such resort so that their relations may not be marred with the superior judiciary. Usually, they had been accepting the judgments of the final court of appeal.

The PPP government’s insistence on throwing Khowaja out of Sindh amply demonstrates that for some time its entire energies are being consumed to achieve this objective, but it is handicapped due to the SHC intervention and the refusal of the federal authorities to oblige.

While ousting Khowaja, the Sindh government has not issued any specific ‘charge-sheet’ against the IGP that could have justified his exit from the province. On the other hand, serious reservations have been articulated by different circles over its doggedness to get rid of the senior police officer, whose integrity and credibility is universally above board. There is no allegation of any kind against him that has been even mentioned by any quarter.

The embarrassment of the provincial government multiplied on Thursday when the SHC extended its stay on Khowaja’s removal till its decision on the matter, asking for a copy of the cabinet decision in this connection. The situation will remain as it is till April 11, the next date of hearing at the SHC.

The cabinet had sanctioned the government’s decision to dump Khowaja and appoint Additional IG Sardar Abdul Majeed Dasti in his place. The federal government has already rejected the provincial administration’s decision to relieve Khowaja and giving charge to Dasti without waiting for its formal decision on the panel of officials sent to it. The Sindh government acted in an indecent haste despite being clear that its decision will not be sustainable.

The federal administration is in no mood to bail out the Sindh government as it told the SHC that it is not bound to implement the proposal of the other side. Even after having consultations with the provinces, the power to appoint IGPs vests in the central authorities.

It was agreed in 1993 that the appointment of IGP would be done with mutual consultations, the federal reply filed with the SHC said. It had also been agreed between the central and provincial governments that the provincial authorities will seek approval from the federal government of promotion of any officer done by them.

Gross disagreements between the governments of the PPP and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on appointment of top police and bureaucratic officials are not new as such differences had been marring their relations during different tenures.

The clashing opinions on AD Khowaja are seen in the context of overall ties between the PPP and PML-N, which have of late exasperated to a great extent. This happened because of the intensified attacks of the top PPP leaders specifically Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal, who are struggling to revive their party in Punjab, on the PML-N.

Zardari has even bragged that because of his political wisdom and dexterity he would show to his supporters to have his prime minister after the 2018 general elections as he had done by getting his nominee Raza Rabbani elected as the Senate chairman although he did not have secured majority in the election of half of members of the Upper House of Parliament in 2015.

At the time, the PPP supremo had been successful in mobilising the support of smaller groups against the PML-N to clinch the prestigious slot of the Senate chairman. At the time, the overall tally of PPP was just one seat more than PML-N strength. After sensing that it would be unable to get its representative elected as the Senate chairman, the PML-N had also opted for Rabbani for his unanimous election. However, the situation would be reversed in 2018 as the PML-N and its allies are going to win majority seats in election to half of the Senate in that year.

Zardari’s apparent game-plan is to squeeze a few seats from Punjab, and putting them together with his sweeping victory in interior region of Sindh and the gains of smaller parties from other provinces, he believes, will land him in a position to have his cardholder as the next prime minister, defeating the PML-N.



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