IG Sindh Mushtaq Mahar has deferred his own leave and ordered Sindh police officers to set aside their leave applications for 10 days, “pending the conclusion of the inquiry” regarding Captain Safdar’s arrest.
The development came a few hours after several high ranking officers of the Sindh Police requested to proceed on leave as the controversy over the arrest of PML-N leader Captain Mohammad Safdar intensified on Tuesday.
In a series of tweets, Sindh Police 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”.
The Sindh police thanked PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah for showing solidarity with the police force.
“Sindh police has always been a disciplined force which believes in institutional harmony between all key national institutions and has always been cognisant of its responsibility to serve and protect the citizens of this province and thus, keeping this in mind,” stated the tweet.
IG Sindh, senior Sindh police officers decide to go on leave
According to sources, several senior officers, including IG Sindh Mushtaq Mahar, have decided to go on leave citing demoralisation of the police force.
The officials reportedly include the Additional Inspector General (AIG) Karachi, the AIG Special Branch (whose application for leave has been widely circulated) and several Deputy Inspectors General (DIG) of police.
An application signed by AIG Special Branch Imran Yaqoob, which has been making the rounds on social media, reads that he wishes to proceed on leave because the police high command has been “ridiculed and mishandled”, leading to demoralisation within the ranks of Sindh Police.
“In such a stressful situation, it is quite difficult for me to discharge my duty in a professional manner,” AIG Imran has said.
He added that he needed 60-day earned leaves to “come out of the shock and settle down”.
According to a Geo News correspondent, 12-13 other police officers have submitted similar leave requests.
The officers have reportedly said that if their request is not entertained, they will simply stop showing up to their postings.
Chaos in Sindh Police
A day earlier, 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.
Controversy had already been brewing over the circumstances surrounding Captain Safdar’s arrest, with PML-N representatives claiming that the police had been put under pressure to pick him up.
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.
Captain Safdar’s arrest
Retired Captain Safdar — Nawaz Sharif’s son-in-law and Maryam Nawaz’s spouse — was arrested in the early hours of Monday by Sindh Police for, among other charges, allegedly violating the sanctity of Quaid-e-Azam’s Mazar (also called Mazar-e-Quaid).
The sanctity of the Quaid’s Mazar is protected by The Quaid-i-Azam’s Mazar (Protection and Maintenance) Ordinance, 1971, which explicitly forbids political activities within the premises of the mausoleum.
“No person shall organise, convene or take part in any meeting or demonstration or procession or engage in political activity within the premises of Quaid’s mausoleum or within a distance of ten feet from the outer boundary thereof,” reads the law on the matter.
In a press conference earlier in the day, Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah said that 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 and on a third occasion accompanying the Mazar-e-Quaid board.
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.