- Lahore CCPO removal was inevitable
Another one of the many pre-election promises made by the PTI that the party has abysmally failed to keep was to eliminate the culture of governments making politically motivated appointments to keep their opponents in check. The underqualified appointee, unfit for the actual job at hand, makes a mockery of the office he holds, reducing performance, only to be shown the door after a short stint by which time the damage is done. The latest example of this political bureaucratic turnover is the removal of controversial figure Umar Sheikh from the post of Lahore Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) after being given the job just four months ago, despite a damning intelligence report against him by the IB and severe resentment within the senior cadre of the Punjab Police. The IG Punjab at the time, Shoaib Dastgir, whom Prime Minister Imran Khan had earlier commended for arresting several notorious hardened criminals that his four predecessors were unable to, was removed after he refused to work with the government over its appointing Umar Sheikh as CCPO. Following the horrific Lahore-Sialkot motorway rape incident, Mr Sheikh passed some severely insensitive remarks, blaming the victim for what had happened.
Prime Minister Imran Khan was however still all praises for the new CCPO, revealing in an interview how Mr Sheikh had successfully removed squatters from a property owned by his brother-in-law. The fact that the Prime Minister would sooner remove a competent and effective Police IG than accept that the appointment of a recalcitrant incompetent loudmouth junior officer as CCPO was the wrong call, and just because the latter had delivered on a personal task of his, is the epitome of cronyism. Special Assistant to the Chief Minister of Punjab on Information and Culture Firdous Ashiq Awan has explained that Mr Sheikh’s removal was not abrupt, rather he was given specific targets to be achieved in four months, which he was unable to do; one look at his performance record and reputation would have sufficed for Punjab CM Usman Buzdar to realise that Mr Sheikh was not the right man for the job. It would seem therefore that the ‘job’ was never to make Punjab a safer province through better police work, but to work on political deliverables that suit the PTI. In the process, the Punjab Police has become a more demoralized force and the crime rate has gone up.