KARACHI: The ongoing operation in the port city has come to a grinding halt as the Sindh government has not yet recommended that the federal government extend the Rangers’ stay in the province and its special policing powers in Karachi.
All the wings of the paramilitary force have been stopped from carrying out raids because of the lack of extension in its powers. Former president Asif Ali Zardari has been in London for the last many days and his arrival in Dubai has been delayed. The PPP provincial leadership could not hold consultations on the issue with him so the Sindh government is unable to extend a request to the federal government to extend the Rangers’ stay in Sindh and its policing powers.
Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah is likely to fly to Dubai in a few days to consult the top leadership of the ruling PPP on the issue. The Sindh chief minister is likely to fly to Dubai to have a meeting there with PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari on the issue the Rangers’ extension and also extending the special anti-terror policing powers of the paramilitary force in Karachi Division only.
Former president Asif Ali Zardari will especially fly from London to Dubai to have consultations with the Sindh CM and with his top aides on the issue. Some provincial ministers are likely to accompany the CM on his trip to Dubai to take part in the top-level consultations of the ruling PPP.
Both the terms of stay of Sindh Rangers in the province in aid of the civil administration and the police to control law and order and the special policing powers of the Rangers in Karachi came to an end on July 19, 2016. The latest term of stay of the Rangers in the province under Article-147 of the Constitution was for one year while the last time the Sindh government granted an extension in the special policing powers of the Sindh Rangers in Karachi for another 77 days in early May, 2016. The special policing powers of the Act-1997 and were accorded to Rangers for Karachi Division only to combat terrorism and other high-profile crimes.
In this regard, the top leadership of the ruling PPP and that of the Sindh government had been again mulling over the option to take the issue of special powers of Rangers and its stay in the province to the provincial assembly to get it approved from the legislature before sending any recommendation to the federal government. This approval would be made in line with the 18th Constitutional Amendment as the provincial government had to get approval from the provincial assembly for its decision to allow any of the federal government’s agencies to do work in territorial limits of the province.
The Sindh CM is also likely to draft a formal response to the letter sent to him by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan calling upon the former to extend the special policing powers of Rangers for the sake of peace and maintenance of law and order in Karachi. The Sindh CM is being approached by several other relevant top-level quarters on the issue of special policing powers of Rangers in Karachi urging him to extend it for another term. The special policing powers of Rangers became controversial this time as Rangers took action on July 13 and arrested an influential person, Asad Kharral in Larkana who is stated to be close to Sindh Home Minister Suhail Anwar Khan Siyal. The Sindh CM later held out the viewpoint that Rangers had gone beyond its powers while doing the action in Larkana as its special policing powers were confined to Karachi Division only.
The special powers of Rangers to detain suspected high-profile criminals and terrorists for a period of 90 days under the amendment in ATA had already expired last month while federal government was also doing consultation with the stakeholders concerned whether to extend these powers or not.