Islamabad: Amid massive anti-government protests, Pakistan on Monday replaced Islamabad's police chief, triggering criticism from the protest leaders Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri.
The interior ministry said Inspector General of Police Islamabad Aftab Cheema has been replaced by Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Khalid Khattak.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan said Cheema had been removed by the government "because his conscience had awakened and had refused to begin a crackdown against protesters in the federal capital city," adding that the new police chief would be held accountable if protests turned violent due to intervention of police.
"He demanded a written order for taking action against the protesters. This is his only crime. What else could have caused his removal today?" Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Dr Tahirul Qadri was quoted as saying by the Dawn today.
According to a government official, Cheema wanted to go on leave and the ministry of interior accepted his application. However, a police source said Cheema was removed for failing to stop protesters from getting closer to the federal secretariat building in the Red Zone.
Vice Chairman of the PTI, Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Cheema was removed for his refusal to launch crackdown on protesters.