LAHORE – In this corruption-riddled, crime-infested, and inflation-hit province with sprawling population, the police department is as powerful as the politicians are. Both the influential pillars confront, influence each other, but rule the roost in the state.

Last week, on the orders of the Chief Minister Punjab the Inspector General of Police (IGP) transferred the district police officers (DPOs) of Chiniot and Hafizabad districts. A couple of weeks ago, the IGP had to remove the district police officer of Okara district purely on political grounds. The police chief was asked to remove the DPO Okara after a few parliamentarians, in person, complained to the Chief Minister that Usman Gondal was not obliging them in the matters related to transfers/postings and investigation of criminal cases. The DPO of Sahiwal district was also removed last month on the interventions of local PML-N leaders.

The chief minister is yet to appoint district police officers (DPOs) in Chiniot, Hafizabad, and Okara districts.

 The police department cannot order postings and transfers independently since the chief executive of the province himself interviews the officers before ‘assigning’ them the powerful postings in the police.

Notwithstanding such important slots are lying vacant for the last couple of weeks, police circles believe more transfers of senior officers are on the cards in the days ahead. The also linked the move with the forthcoming general elections. Of course, the police matter everywhere from seeking protocol and to maneuvering polls.

As a mater of fact, since he became the CM, Shahbaz Sharif interviewed every police officer before ordering the appointment on key post.

While many police officers consider such action as a direct interference into the affairs of the department some political leaders say that the chief minister has the authority to pick up right man for the right place to provide justice to the people and to change the Thana culture.

Insiders say that the PML-N, the ruling party in the province, transfers and posts top police officers viewing their political connections and service tenure.

According to experienced policemen, only clean and dead-honest officers should be appointed on important slots right from the post of SHO to DPO to ensure justice at the grassroots level. Unfortunately, they say, some political leaders wanted to get their blue-eyed posted as SHOs. Postings on political grounds always create mess, they added.

The influential groups always back the officers who are more loyal to the politicians rather than the department. The governance cannot be improved and the government cannot succeed in ensuring justice at grass root level until and unless crime fighters and honest officers are posted on merit.  There will be no positive and visible change on the ground unless the pressure groups and influential are discouraged, according to a seasoned officer who has served in many districts and police regions on key slots. The police must be purged from politics.

But the task is almost impossible given the circumstances in a society, where the influential and pressure groups rule the roost.

On the other hand a representative of the PML-N, who preferred not to be named, was of the view that the recently transferred officers were shown the door either because of their poor performance or on administrative grounds.

Since the Inspector General of Police (IGP) is the commander of the largest law enforcing agency of the country with more than 180,000 trained and armed personnel, the department should be given freehand in all administrative matters.

Police circles say after short-listing the IGP has sent recommendations to the Chief Minister for the postings of DPOs in different districts and the department awaits the CM’s final nod.

 As a practice, the CM will order further postings after interviewing the nominees.

The more the political leaders would keep themselves away from using police powers, the better the department could be made accountable to help improve governance.