RAWALPINDI: (Web Desk) The Court of Inquiry formed on the orders of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa has recommended the removal of Pakistan Rangers and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) officials involved in the ‘Karachi incident’ for creating “an unwarranted situation that led to misunderstanding between two state institutions”.
The inquiry had been ordered by the army chief after the Sindh police chief and several senior officers of the provincial police force had sought extended leave from duty saying they had been left demoralised due to the circumstances surrounding the arrest of PML-N leader Capt Muhammad Safdar on October 19.
The statement issued by Inter-Services Public Relations on Tuesday notified that the inquiry “pertaining to the issue of redress of Inspector General of Police Sindh’s grievances” had been completed and that it had recommended the removal of all security agencies’ officers found involved in the events of October 18 and 19, 2020.
“The Court of Inquiry has established that on the night of October 18/19, officers from Pakistan Rangers (Sindh) and the ISI sector Headquarters Karachi were considerably seized with the fallout of the desecration of Mazar-e-Quaid,” the statement read.
“They [the security officers] were under increasing public pressure to ensure prompt action as per the law. Assessing the response of police authorities against this developing yet volatile situation to be slow and wanting, in a charged environment, the concerned ISI/Rangers officers decided to act, rather over-zealously,” the statement added.
“They were indeed experienced enough to have acted more prudently and could have avoided creating an unwarranted situation that led to misunderstanding between the two state institutions,” it said.
The ISPR statement said that “it has been decided to remove the concerned officers from their current assignments for further departmental proceedings and disposal at [the Army’s] General Headquarters (GHQ).”
Federal govt’s reaction
Reacting to the ISPR statement, Information Minister Shibli Faraz appreciated the army chief for initiating the inquiry and implementing the recommendations.
Information Minister Shibli Faraz, who had termed the incident as a political gimmick by the PPP, appreciated the army chief for initiating the inquiry and implementing the recommendations.
“We accept what happened. Since the issue was concerning Quaid-e-Azam, they [security officials] acted emotionally which I feel they should not have.”
“But the ISPR has given its decision and we welcome it,” he added.
When reminded that the federal government hadn’t taken it seriously, Faraz said this was a provincial issue. “The federal government had nothing to do with it. The Sindh government and institutions that operate in the province were responsible for it.”
“In our experience, the Sindh government politicizes everything – be it the coronavirus or the wheat crisis. Hence we had our reservations,” he stressed. “Now that the ISPR has issued the finding, the Sindh IG Mushtaq Ahmed Mahar should also investigate the ‘mutiny’ in police.”
Captain Safdar’s arrest
Retired Captain Safdar — Nawaz Sharif’s son-in-law and Maryam Nawaz’s spouse — was arrested in the early morning on October 19 by Sindh Police for allegedly violating the sanctity of Quaid-e-Azam’s mausoleum and threatening harm to the petitioner who filed the case.
Representatives of the Sindh government had publicly distanced themselves from the arrest and condemned it, saying that while Captain Safdar raising slogans at the Quaid-e-Azam’s Mazar was not condonable, the arrest had been made without its knowledge.
Police were put under “extreme pressure” to arrest Captain Safdar, Maryam Nawaz’s Spokesperson and senior PML-N leader Mohammad Zubair had said, quoting Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah.
“Murad Ali Shah personally confirmed to me his police had nothing to do with this. They were put under extreme pressure,” Zubair told reporters outside Karachi’s Aziz Bhatti police station.
Shah had said an attempt was made to put the police under pressure, with PTI ministers going to the police on two different occasions to register a case.
They were told by police that a summary trial like the one sought falls under the jurisdiction of a judicial magistrate and it is not up to the police to register a case, said CM Shah. He said the police had refused to fall under pressure.
Nonetheless, the CM Sindh said, the petitioner had “manufactured” a complaint saying that he had been threatened with his life, due to which police had to take action.
Sindh Police’s Digital Media Cell had tweeted, then deleted, then tweeted again a statement defending Captain Safdar’s arrest, saying it was done “according to the law”.
The department’s Twitter activity, which indicated that not all was well within the provincial police, had raised eyebrows.
On October 19, several high ranking officers of the Sindh Police requested to proceed on leave.
However, the army chief personally took note of the situation, ordering an inquiry into the matter and promising action once it was completed.
In a series of tweets, Sindh Police had subsequently thanked the army chief for “realising the sense of hurt that prevailed within a uniformed force, and for promptly ordering an inquiry into the matter”.
A day later, IG Sindh Mushtaq Mahar deferred his own leave and ordered Sindh police officers to set aside their leave applications for 10 days, “pending the conclusion of the inquiry”.