Sindh and the Politics of Transfer & Posting

Sindh and the Politics of Transfer & Posting

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Sindh and the Politics of Transfer & PostingHistorically, the transfer and posting of administrative and police officers has remained the first choice for powerful people to keep intact their influence

Khairpur is a unique district where transfer & posting takes place on the basis of unwritten ‘Power Sharing Formula’

By Sanwal

The transfers and postings of civil servants, especially of the administrative and police officers, on the behest of influential political figures is not uncommon in Pakistan. Indeed, this is something that has been happening under political patronage since decades. Historically, the transfer and posting of administrative and police officers has remained the first choice for powerful people as it helps them to keep their influence intact. It is integral part of Pakistan’s political culture to post Commissioners, Deputy Commissioners, the police officers including the Senior Superintendents of Police (SSP), Superintendents of Police (SP) and even the Station House Officers (SHOs) on the recommendations of influential personalities of the area.

This practice is rampant in the feudal culture in all the provinces of country where government departments are bound to seek the consent or prior permission of influential personalities before posting a government official in their respective areas. Those who are somehow appointed without the approval of influential personalities face different types of problems, so much so that they get fed up of their jobs. In certain cases, some officers are transferred from one place to other as punishment for not obeying the orders of influential politicians or parliamentarians or for failure to serve the political interests of the government. As being the government servant, the officers are duty bound to accept the posting wherever it is made, they spend their entire career fretting about one question alone: where the hell next?

In such a scenario, I will discuss the transfers and postings of officers in Sindh. The Services and General Administration Department of Sindh government remains busy all the day throughout the year issuing notifications of transfers and postings. This practice continued even during the lockdown because of Covid-19 outbreak in 2020 when the entire provincial secretariat had become empty and the officers and staff were directed to stay home. This practice still continues and the media reports suggest that the administrative and police officers are being transferred frequently in almost all the districts of province. Such transfers, especially of Deputy Commissioners and SSPs have been taking place within few months.

Now I would reveal the unique case of transfer and posting of officers in Khairpur district where such practice takes place on the basis of unwritten ‘Power Sharing Formula’, as this district has more than one highly influential political personalities of the ruling party in Sindh.

A couple of days back the Deputy Commissioner and SSP Khairpur have been transferred again through the notifications issued on same day. Deputy Commissioner Khairpur Ahmed Ali Qureshi and SSP Khairpur Amir Saud Magsi were transferred and Raja Tariq Chandio and Zafar Iqbal Malik were posted in their place as DC and SSP Khairpur respectively.

This is second time when both officers of the top two posts of the district have been transferred at the same time. About a year ago, DC Muhammad Naeem Sandhu and SSP Umar Tufail were transferred in the same fashion on the same day on 20th June 2020.

The sources close to ruling party said that there is power sharing formula among two influenced political houses of the PPP of Khairpur approved by the  top ruling elite, according to which DCs and SSPs would be transferred and posted with the consent of both Jillani House (Syed Qaim Ali Shah / Dr. Nafisa Shah) and Wassan House (Manzoor Hussain Wassan /Nawab Ali Wassan). In past the DCs were posted by the Jillani power corridor while SSP by Wassan House. Later, controversies started when Wassan House got transfer of then SSP Khairpur Nasir Aftab Pathan and then the ASP Masood Bangash but due public protest transfer of both officers was withdrawn by Wassan on some understandings rather to say Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) decided in meeting held at the House of former IGP Ghulam Hyder Jamali at Karachi.

It is said the Wassans were actually not satisfied from the police as they needed more cooperation during the trial of Nawab Wassan in murder case of Abdul Wahab Morejo, killed in general elections of 2012 in which former Taluka Nazim Tahir Imtiaz along with others of PMLF workers were injured. However, later Phulpoto Family’s Sardar Imtiaz Hussain Phulpoto along with his son Tahir Imtiaz joined PPP through MNA Dr. Nafisa Shah. During murder trial of Wahab Morejo the court cancelled the bail of the then MNA Nawab Wassan but he successfully fled while the then ASP Khairpur Masood Bangash chased him to arrest but the mob attacked on police force in the premises of court. Subsequently Wassan House vowed to get transferred ASP Bangash and SSP Pathan. However, then Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, on the occasion on Annual Urs of Sachal Sarmast in 2012, ordered cancellation of the transfer orders on the pretext of public pressure. On the cancellation of transfers, people of district warmly welcomed both of the officers, who got name and fame from this incident.

Later, Wassan House realized that actual reins of district are held by DC. It happened when they had land and revenue related issues developed with close relations of then DC Abdul Fattah Hulio who was posted in election days of 2018 on the backing of Jillani House but turned to incline to Wassan House through the District Nazim Shehryar Wassan. Subsequently Hulio was transferred and Jillani House got Naeem Sandhu posted as DC. Later, Wassans got posting Ahmed Ali Qureshi as DC who had remained Assistant Commissioner (AC) Kotdiji, EDO Revenue Khairpur and on other important postings in Manzoor Wassan’s ministries of Industries, Mines and Mineral Departments. The Jillani House had got Amir Saud Magsi posted as SSP Khairpur.

It’s to be said that the transfers and postings are part and parcel of government services however politically motivated transfers and postings ultimately affect the performance of officers and smooth delivery to public. In such a situation, the officers await the approval of every action from the respective ‘Political Houses’ which cause the public to suffer ultimately.

In recent postings of DC Mr. Chandio and SSP Malik, it is said that the both houses have revised their old formula as DC from Jillani house and SSP from Wassan house.

I wonder how the civil servants would maintain the high ethical standards, integrity and honesty; political neutrality; promoting of the principles of merit, fairness and impartiality in the discharge of duties; accountability and transparency; responsiveness to the public, particularly to the weaker section; courtesy and good behavior with the public, as required under the universal rules of civil service.

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The writer is a freelance writer based in Karachi. He keeps close eye on political and administrative developments taking place in Sindh. 
Also read: Politicization of Civil Services in Pakistan