Lahore, May 17: Authorities in Pakistan’s Punjab province have suspended five women police personnel and launched a probe following allegations that they were involved in a sex racket.
The scandal has rocked the women’s police department and officials fear the issue will make it more difficult for newcomers to join the force in a conservative society.
The matter came to light when Inspector Shafia Bakhat, believed to be the head of the racket, “dispatched” two women constables for duty at the residence of an officer of the Lahore Development Authority.
The constables found three “customers” waiting for them at the officer’s home, police sources told media. When the women constables refused to do the bidding of the officer and his friends, they were allowed to leave but warned that they should not raise an alarm.
However, the women constables reported the matter to the station house officer in Sabzazar police station and he subsequently informed his superiors.
Lahore’s SSP (Operations) Shafiq Ahmed suspended Shafia Bakhat and four other women police personnel for alleged involvement in the racket. He also directed SSP (Coordination) Imran Arshad to investigate the matter and submit his findings at the earliest.
According to the initial findings, Inspector Bakhat was involved in the racket for several years. A couple of years ago, she was suspended on similar charges but was reinstated owing to her “strong connections with police high-ups”, sources said.
“Shafia targets women police personnel from remote areas with poor family backgrounds. She has a strong network backed by senior police officers and journalists,” a source said.
The findings of the probe indicated that she was in league with other persons in Lahore. “Shafia’s network uses the codeword ‘duty’ for such assignments and the same landed her in trouble when she wrongly sent a SMS to personnel who were not part of her network for performing duty at the Lahore Development Authority officer’s house,” a source said.
SSP (Operations) Shafiq Ahmed said that some senior police officers and journalists are backing Bakhat. “However their names cannot be revealed till the completion of the inquiry,” he added.
Lahore High Court Chief Justice Khwaja Mohammad Sharif has taken suo moto notice of the scandal and directed Ahmed to appear before him on May 18.