KARACHI    –   Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Wednesday met top police officers and assured them full support of his government following a controversy over the arrest of PML-N leader Muhammad Safdar in Karachi the other day. 

The Chief Minister took the police hierarchy into confidence a day after many officers sent leave applications to the CM Secretariat in protest over alleged mistreatment and humiliation. Reportedly, Sindh Police Inspector General Mushtaq Mehar was ridiculed and mishandled on the issue of filing of FIR against PML-N leader retired Captain Safdar, who chanted slogans inside the Quaid’s mausoleum before a political rally on October 18.

CM Murad Ali Shah urged the police force, headed by Inspector General of Police (IG), to continue performing their duties with same spirit and leave the rest on him. IGP Mushtaq Maher, all Additional- IGs and DIGs were present in the meeting.

The chief minister, at the outset of the meeting, appreciated the services rendered by the Sindh police in restoration of law and order in the province, particularly in the city. “You have laid down your lives in the line of your duty to restore peace in the city,” he told the policemen and said “it is the police which have worked out heinous crime cases professionally and brought the terrorists to book,” he said.

Murad Ali Shah further said that the police working in Sindh was thoroughly professional and had thwarted terrorist attacks on Karachi Stock Exchange, Chinese Consulate and various others. The provincial government has always strengthened the police by upgrading its training centres, providing them with the latest equipment, arms and ammunition and important gadgets, the CM said and added the police have also demonstrated their professional skill and bravery in the field.

Shah said that he has always given full space to the police to work freely and impartially. “I don’t believe in interfering in the police matters that is why you [police] have shown good performance, integrity and devotion,” he told the top officials.

Murad Ali Shah said that some recent happenings created unrest and resentment in the police ranks. “Don’t worry, I am, as a head of the provincial government, with you and would never let you be demoralised at any stage,” he vowed and added that he adopted the policy of non-interference in the police matters and would never allow it to be violated.

The chief minister urged the Inspector General of Police and other senior police officers to inculcate and rejuvenate the same spirit and morale in the lower ranks of the police so that they would continue their professional services with same dedication. The police officers present in the meeting thanked the chief minister for his support, encouragement and guidance.

Later in the day, the Sindh Assembly also passed a resolution “express(ing) serious concern and reservation over the unfortunate incident”. The house also paid a “glowing tribute” to the Sindh police force for its contribution to restoring peace and maintaining law and order in the province.

The resolution further said that “dozens of senior police officers including the IG Sindh” had decided to go on leave after being “demoralised” by the incident, adding that the timely intervention by PPP chief Bilawal and CM Shah, the province was “saved from a major administrative crisis”.

Shah also reiterated the provincial government’s support for the police during his address in the Sindh Assembly and said that party chief Bilawal had instructed him to find out who was behind the episode.

Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah speaks in the Sindh Assembly. — DawnNewsTV

He also talked about the first information report lodged against PML-N leader retired Captain Mohammad Safdar saying that “undue pressure” was exerted on Sindh police to register a “fake case”. Earlier this week, Safdar was booked and arrested in a case pertaining to violation of Quaid’s mausoleum, where he had raised slogans. The PML-N leader was subsequently released on bail hours after his arrest.

“We all respect Quaid-i-Azam’s mausoleum and if something had happened you could have followed proper procedure,” Shah said in the Sindh Assembly today.

“This is not the first time something like this has happened. PTI people have come here many times […] there are videos as well.”

On Monday, Safdar, who was staying at a hotel with his wife Maryam Nawaz, was arrested for “violating the sanctity of the Quaid’s mausoleum” a day after the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s Bagh-i-Jinnah rally.

Following Safdar’s arrest, a purported voice message by PML-N leader and former Sindh governor Muhammad Zubair was shared by a journalist in which Zubair alleged that the inspector general of police was kidnapped and forced to register the first information report against Maryam, her husband Safdar and 200 others for violating the sanctity of the Quaid’s mausoleum.

In the audio clip circulating on Twitter, Zubair said that Chief Minister Shah confirmed to him that police was pressured into making the arrest. “When they (police) refused to do that, Rangers kidnapped [the IGP],” Zubair said.

PML-N vice president Maryam had also alleged that the Sindh inspector general of police was forcibly “taken to the sector commander’s office and asked to sign on the arrest orders”.

CM Shah had told a presser on Tuesday afternoon that a ministerial committee would investigate the mysterious ‘circumstances’ that led to the early morning raid on the hotel room of Maryam Nawaz and arrest of her husband, but defended the police action once an FIR had been lodged against him.

However, the presser failed to convince the police hierarchy that was in low morale following the Oct 19 episode, compelling the PPP chairman to address a media conference on the issue.

Shah had also accused PTI lawmakers of a “conspiracy” to pressure police to book the son-in-law of ex-premier Nawaz Sharif and alleged that the complainant of the FIR enjoyed support from the PTI leadership.

Sharing findings of the police investigation to prove the alleged mala fide intention behind the move of the ruling party at Centre, Shah said: “The PTI MPAs under a preplanned conspiracy brought a proclaimed offender at the police station and got him to lodge a fake FIR against Capt (retired) Safdar.”

He explained that leaders of the opposition PML-N, including Capt Safdar, visited Mazar-i-Quaid to pay tribute at around 4:30pm on October 18. “The CDR [Calls Detail Report] of complainant Waqas Ahmed shows that at 4:30pm on October 18 he was at Baqai University, off the Superhighway. When the complainant was not present on the spot, at the Mazar, how did Capt Safdar threaten him with dire consequences?”

In an attempt to woo back the “demoralised” and “shocked” police force, the PPP chairman along with CM chief minister and provincial ministers visited the IG residence later in the night. Bilawal shared a picture of his visit on Twitter showing him in a group photo with IG Maher, senior police officers and Sindh ministers. “I stand in solidarity with Sindh Police, do you?” he tweeted.