KARACHI, Sept 4: The federal cabinet empowered Rangers on Wednesday to lead a targeted operation immediately with the support of police against criminals already identified by federal military and civilian agencies in hundreds of lists for their alleged involvement in targeted killings, kidnappings for ransom, extortion and terrorism in Karachi.
This is one of a few important decisions taken at a special session of the federal cabinet after extensive consultation for two days by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif with all stakeholders, including Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad, Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, leaders of different political parties, representatives of business community and media persons at the Governor’s House.
After a briefing by directors general of ISI, IB, Rangers and IG Police to the prime minister on the law and order situation in Karachi, followed by the cabinet meeting, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali told newsmen that some of the cabinet decisions were not being made public because of their sensitivity, but they would be reflected through their implementation.
Explaining the decision to equip Rangers with the power of prosecution and investigation, the minister said Rangers had complained that people arrested for alleged involvement in crimes were freed after some time.
He said the cabinet had approved guidelines for Rangers to carry out investigation and prosecution. A committee, headed by Federal Minister Zahid Hamid, had been set up to address weaknesses in relevant laws, including the law of evidence. The prosecutor general of Sindh and MQM Senator Farogh Naseem are among its members. The committee has already held two sessions.
The interior minister said that another committee comprising the prosecutor general of Sindh and Senator Farogh Naseem was being set up to manage, initiate, administer and control the operation.
The federal government will be represented on the committee by the officials of Nadra and Nara, while the Sindh government by the chief minister. The committee will meet at least once a week.
The cabinet decided that police would undergo a complete overhaul. The inspector general of Sindh police has been authorised to “immediately” revamp the police department within ‘a set timeframe’ to identify and arrest those law enforcers who were serving the interests of terrorists and criminals.Chaudhry Nisar said an operational committee, comprising the director general of Rangers, Sindh IG and representatives of intelligence agencies, would take care of the targeted action in the city.
He said another committee, to be headed by the Sindh chief minister, would manage, administer and control routine operations of law enforcement agencies. The committee will include officials of the interior ministry, Rangers, intelligence agencies, Nadra, Nara and the Sindh government. It will meet once a week.
Yet another committee comprising senior citizens, journalists, etc., will monitor overall security operations. “Having no political affiliation, the members of this committee will give an impartial input to security agencies, media and federal and provincial governments,” the minister said.
The committee will establish the status of arrested suspects because the government did not want to trouble innocent people, he added.
“We are going through a unique experience here by getting united despite having different political affiliations. We are proceeding with commonality of interest,” the interior minister said while referring to the consensus developed among all stakeholders.
He recalled that the prime minister had reiterated on Tuesday that “we are here only to find a way out of Karachi violence”.
“The prime minister has made it clear that politicising the Karachi issue is a sin to him.”
Chaudhry Nisar clarified that the centre had put the provincial government in the driver’s seat for improving law and order in Karachi because it had the mandate of people. “We respect the mandate of PPP, MQM and all other parties represented here.”
If any of the stakeholders in Sindh was sidelined, there would be political infighting which would ultimately distract the government from its path, he said.
He said most of the crimes were being committed because of unregistered Sims as cellular phone companies were not following the rules while selling them.
Chaudhry Nisar said the IGP would identify a police station under whose jurisdiction heinous crimes were being committed before launching the action by Rangers.
UNITED WE STAND: He said the action being initiated now would be a new experience because operations were launched in the past when one party ruled at the centre and another in the province. It would be a message that “we are united on national issues”.
In reply to a question, the minister said Rangers had been deployed in Sindh since 1996 on the request of the provincial government. Not only Rangers but other federal agencies also would be working under the command of the Sindh chief minister.
Answering another question, Chaudhry Nisar said the government wanted to evolve a system brick by brick instead of taking cosmetic measures to hoodwink the masses.
Karachi was not only the capital of Sindh but also the most important city of Pakistan and all decisions were taken by the cabinet in light of the decisions of the Supreme Court, he observed.
Chaudhry Nisar said the government might seek guidance from the apex court about cabinet decisions, including about militant wings of certain political parties, which were not being made public.
Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah thanked the prime minister and his cabinet for extending cooperation to the provincial government to improve the law and order situation in Karachi. The prime minister held meetings with different sections of people with the same spirit, he added.
He said all parties which met the premier had agreed that there was no need for the army’s deployment in the city. “All of us agreed that let Rangers and police work effectively and deliver,” he added.
Maintaining that the intervention by the federal government had not hurt provincial autonomy, the chief minister said all the measures decided by the federal cabinet were “result-oriented” and apolitical in nature. “All political parties, as well as the prime minister, have a one-point agenda – law and order.”
Governor Ishratul Ibad asked the media to help law enforcement agencies in restoring law and order in the city because all measures were being taken without political considerations.
He said the PPP, MQM, PML-N had their own priorities, but as far as Karachi was concerned all parties had a one-point agenda: restoration of peace and tranquility in the city and rest of the province.