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IG Sindh Mushtaq Mahar defers leave, orders officers to do the same till inquiry concludes

Inspector General of Police Sindh Mushtaq Mahar. — Photo courtesy Sindh Police

Sindh Inspector-General Police Mushtaq Mahar on Tuesday decided to defer his own leave and ordered police officers to set aside their leave applications for 10 days in the "larger national interest" till the conclusion of Captain (retd) Safdar's arrest inquiry.

"The unfortunate incident that occurred on the night of 18/19 October caused great heartache and resentment within all ranks of Sindh Police," a tweet from the Sindh Police read.

Following the "unfortunate incident", IG Sindh decided to proceed on leave and subsequently all ranks decided that they would also apply for leave to protest the "humiliation meted out to Sindh police".

"This was a spontaneous and heartfelt reaction and made on an individual rather than a collective basis because every single member of the department felt an acute sense of disrespect," the Twitter handle of the Sindh Police said.

The Sindh police said that it was "immensely grateful to the Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa that he realised the sense of "hurt that prevailed within a uniformed force", and ordered an inquiry into the matter.

It also thanked PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and the Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah for visiting the IG House and showing solidarity with the police leadership.

"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,"it added.

The development comes after the police chief, senior Sindh Police officers applied for leave as the Captain Safdar arrest controversy intensified, with the senior command of the Sindh Police saying that the episode had left police "shocked and demoralised".

The officials reportedly included 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.

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