ISLAMABAD: The federal government on Monday extended special policing powers of the Pakistan Rangers in Karachi for another 90 days while rejecting conditions of the Sindh government.
In a letter written in response to the provincial government’s requisition proposing extension in the term of Rangers with certain conditions, the interior ministry said neither the Anti-Terrorism Act can be restricted, nor its relevant clauses be partially taken out, or amended.
It has been highlighted in the letter that the provincial government’s recommendation has to be within the ambit of law. It says that the provincial government’s proposals do not fall under the relevant law.
Conditions set by the Sindh government have not been made part of the notification extending Rangers’ policing powers.
Interior ministry says the provincial government’s proposals do not fall under relevant law
Rangers’ policing powers in Karachi expired on April 15 and the paramilitary force kept operating without a legal cover.
Informed sources told Dawn that the Sindh government this time wanted to restrict the role of Rangers in Karachi merely to assist the police. The force under existing arrangement has a lead policing role to carry out raids, arrest suspects, interrogate them and conduct snap checking on their own.
This was not for the first time that the Sindh government delayed the summary for extending Rangers’ policing powers. It had accused Rangers of overstepping their mandate in the past, as well, and tried to engage them in the troubled city on their own terms. It remained at loggerheads with the paramilitary force when the latter raided certain government offices in 2015 and took away record in a bid to find evidence of corruption. It also expressed ‘some reservations’ when the Rangers raided offices of a businessman in Karachi, the day former president Asif Zardari returned to the country after ending his 18-month-long self-exile in December 2016.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan recently warned that the federal government would consider other legal options if a requisition from the Sindh government for extending term of Rangers was not received.
Deployment of Pakistan Rangers, Sindh, in Karachi is requisitioned under Article 147 of the Constitution, and under Clause 1 of Sub-section 3 of Section 4 of Anti-Terrorism Act 1997, authorised to prevent the commission of terrorist acts, or scheduled offences in notified area for the punishment of terrorist in accordance with the provision of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997.
Assisting police in Karachi since 1989 when the Pakistan People’s Party government in the Centre at the time had called in the Rangers and the Frontier Constabulary to curb rising political violence in the metropolis, the paramilitary force started enjoying policing powers a few years ago amid increasing number of killings on sectarian, political and ethnic grounds in the city.
The paramilitary force is currently spearheading an ‘operation’ against criminal elements in Karachi, which was initiated in September 2013 after the federal cabinet empowered the force to lead a targeted advance with the support of police against criminals already identified by federal military and civilian agencies for their alleged involvement in targeted killings, kidnappings for ransom, extortion and terrorism in Karachi.