Sindh govt, Rangers still at odds over policing powers extension

Source: Published in Law & Order on Thursday, July 21, 2016

KARACHI/HYDERABAD: A day after the expiry of the tenure of Rangers’ special powers, the Pakistan Peoples Party-led provincial government appears to be in no hurry to give another lease of life to the paramilitary force’s task to police Karachi.

On May 9, the tenure of Rangers special powers was extended for 77 days only in Karachi division with effect from May 4. The 77-day period ended on July 19.

The Rangers can no longer use their special powers after the July 19 deadline, but the chief spokesman for the Sindh government, Maula Bukhsh Chandio, did not see it that way. He told a press conference in Hyderabad that the Rangers’ powers expired on Tuesday night but the paramilitary force did not consider it any obstruction to their operations.

“I don’t think that the Rangers’ operation has come to an end as they are working and producing results. They don’t see any obstruction in my view,” he said.

Against the backdrop of recent Rangers’ actions in Larkana that included the cordoning off of the residence of Home Minister Sohail Siyal and questioning of one Asad Kharal, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah had reminded the Rangers of their constitutional obligations only on Tuesday when he told reporters in Larkana that their activities in the interior of Sindh were unconstitutional as they had no mandate to take actions anywhere in Sindh except Karachi.

While Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan wrote a letter to the Sindh government asking it to extend the policing powers of Rangers across the province, the chief minister made it clear only on Tuesday that the issue would be decided in a meeting of the party high command.
There are reports that some PPP leaders left the metropolis for Dubai to consult party’s senior leadership over the issue.

Mr Chandio, the adviser to Sindh CM on information, hinted that the provincial government would not extend the Rangers’ mandate to the whole province.

“On the basis of one incident in Larkana, you [Rangers] can’t go to whole of Sindh. If you want it then the federal government, parliament and the Sindh Assembly have a role to play and with a legal and constitutional act you can take a step wherever you like,” he added.

He said there was nothing illegal or unconstitutional if the CM took guidance from the party leadership on the important issue of the Rangers’ policing powers.

In response to a recent statement given by the Rangers director general, Maj Gen Bilal Akbar, that the paramilitary force could move in any part of the province to chase criminals, he said: “He [the Rangers chief] has bona fide intention but whether Mirpurkhas, Tando Mohammad Khan and Tharparkar witness Karachi-like killings? I say, no, as such situation exists nowhere in [interior] Sindh. Karachi faces a crisis of law and order but in other cities it is altogether different.”

The special powers of the Rangers authorise the paramilitary force to prevent the commission of terrorist acts, or scheduled offences, in a notified area for the punishment of terrorists in accordance with the provision of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997.

Chandio slams interior minister

Speaking at the press conference, Mr Chandio criticised interior minister Chaudhry Nisar for releasing to the media the letter he had written to the chief minister of Sindh. The adviser said the interior minister had sensationalised the whole matter though a delay in granting policing powers to Rangers was not unusual. “Chaudhry Nisar doesn’t take up issue at the right forum. He needs to talk to the CM instead of newspapers,” he added.

The interior minister had feared that an unnecessary delay in extension of power to the Rangers “in Sindh will not only disrupt operation against terrorists but also negatively impact the morale and performance of the civil armed forces”.“Releasing a letter after writing” was basically the job of the parties having a political agenda, he said. “This is not the rulers’ job. He is the federal interior minister and he should have showed patience because it is state’s function and there is no harm in talking to the CM.”

The adviser said that following the kidnapping of Barrister Awais Ali Shah, a son of Sindh High Court Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, a baseless allegation was levelled against the home minister “by his enemies and the enemies of democracy”.

He said that those who had levelled charges publicly should apologise publicly after the recovery of Mr Shah in the Tank operation.

Author Information

Written by Mohammad Hussain Khan

More by Mohammad Hussain Khan
Read all from Mohammad Hussain Khan»