Islamabad: Pakistan’s Minister for Science and Technology Azam Swati resigned on Thursday amid allegations that he played a role in the transfer of former Islamabad police chief.
“To uphold my moral authority, I sent my resignation to the PM [and told him] that I cannot work under these conditions,” Swati said. “Now I will defend my case without any portfolio or authority.”
Swati, a member of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), is currently facing a case in the Supreme Court (SC) over accusations that he had influenced the transfer of former Islamabad Inspector General of Police Jan Mohammad who refused to take action on a complaint filed by Swati’s son. The minister’s son registered a case against a family of slum dwellers for allegedly trespassing on his family’s land. The family was later released after a day’s detention following police claim that a settlement was reached between the two parties.
The argument and the subsequent transfer of police chief caught the attention of the media as well as the top court.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar took suo motu notice of the police official transferred on October 27 after he allegedly refused to take action on a complaint filed by the minister.
On November 19, the court-formed joint investigation team (JIT) had held Swati and his employees responsible for the argument that purportedly led to the police chief’s transfer and deduced that Swati, by virtue of his post, “wielded his influence and prevailed upon the authorities by misusing his office and profile.” While the report highlighted some negligence on the part of police officials as well but said that Swati “was given special treatment by the relevant authorities”.
The minister tendered his unconditional apology, which was rejected by the chief justice who observed that minister Swati could be tried under Article 62 (1) (f) — that sets the precondition for a member of parliament to be “sadiq and ameen” (honest and righteous). This is the same article that led to the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif last year.
Swati is the second minister after PTI minister after Babar Awan to resign within the first three months of PTI government. Minister for Information Chaudhry Fawad in his tweet said the resignation of Swati is indicative of “the culture of self-accountability as introduced by the Prime Minister Imran Khan, which is only found in very advanced democratic countries.”
According to sources, Khan has accepted the resignation and told Swati to present himself before the court in the current misconduct case.