Public protest in favour of a police officer is really strange

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Salahuddin Haider

That people will come out on streets to demand rehabilitation of an officer of the rank of superintendent of police is inconceivable in any civilised society, but that it has happened in Pakistan is a disgrace for the nation and those indulging in such activities need to be taken to task.
Noticing TV stickers that crowd had gathered near Star Gate on Sharae Faisal in Karachi to demand restoration of suspended SSP Malir Rao Anwar, cannot be given any other name except an arranged event. But it happened Monday afternoon.
Members of the police force, from rankers to high-ups are governed by rules and procedures. Their services can always be disposed off, or they can be suspended for crossing limits of decency, or exercising powers arbitrarily.
SSP Rao Anwar has been known for his behaviour. Several kinds of cases have been registered against his name, including killing people in fake “encounters”. The kind of conduct witnessed last week when his force raided the residence of opposition leader of the Sindh Assembly Khawaja Izharul Hasan, barged in the house with just three ladies, was obviously an objectionable act.
Then he refused to show search or arrest warrants, handcuffed a respectable member of the legislature, maltreated him, and when the chief minister exercised his authority to suspend him for misconduct, he challenged the orders of competent authority.
This was perhaps the first incident in recent memory where a government employee had the courage to challenge the chief minister. If he went to high court against his suspension, it was within his rights. No one would challenge that.
But organising people to stage demonstration in his favour can be interpreted only as rebellion which demands heavy punishment, including show cause notice, proper enquiry, and then if charges are proven against him, downright dismissal of service is the automatic option.
Police has always been treated as essential service, and cannot resort to agitation. Here is an SSP who organized supporters in to raise voice in his favour. What does it mean? Does the SSP patronise hoodlums and goonda elements? There can be many interpretations of the scene witnessed today. It could also mean that the concerned police officer has been running illegal business.
A thorough enquiry into the conduct of SSP, Malir Rao Anwar is now overdue. He thinks of himself as above the law. The chief minister has the authority to suspend any officer under his administrative control. How could he refuse to accept that order? He blurted out against that. That was enough ground to proceed against him for being in government service. That the chief minister also watched it idly by does show some kind of weakness in the administration. The SSP obviously wields surreptitious authority—from where, that should be investigated now.