ISLAMABAD: The Army and Rangers personnel deployed in Islamabad have been given the powers of police to take action against terrorists and check acts of terrorism in the capital city, officials in the interior ministry, capital administration and the police told Dawn on Thursday.
The Army and Rangers were given the powers under Anti-Terrorism Act 1997’s section 5 (use of armed forces and civil armed forces to prevent terrorism, including fire or order to fire upon any person or persons against whom they are authorised to use force).
The request to deploy the Rangers and Army were made by the capital administration on May 25 and June 17, respectively.
Law enforcement agencies can now open fire and raid any building to arrest a suspect
“Under the powers, an officer of armed forces and civil armed forces after giving prior warning use such a force as may be deemed necessary or appropriate, bearing in mind all the facts and circumstances of the situation, against any person who is committing or in all probability is likely to commit a terrorist act or a scheduled offence. It shall be lawful for any such officer to fire or order firing upon any person or persons against whom he is authorised to use force,” the officials added.
They said under section 5 sub-section 2(ii) of the ATA, the forces can also arrest a person who committed an act of terrorism or a schedule offence or against whom a reasonable suspicion existed that he had committed or was about to commit any such act or offence.
The forces can also enter and search without warrants any premises to make arrest or to take possession of any property, including firearms, weapons or articles.
The officials said two companies of the Army were called in the capital and given patrolling duties. Besides, they were also deployed at important points and around key installations.
It may be noted that Rangers in Karachi have also been given the police powers. In this regard, a police station in each of the five districts of Karachi is jointly run by the police and the Rangers.
Advocate Raja Rizwan Abbasi, when contacted, said the federal government can empower the Army and civilian forces under section 5 of ATA to prevent terrorism.
“Under the section, the Army and civil forces will use all the powers given to the police to take action against terrorism, terrorists and offenders of schedule offences,” he added.
“Section 5 of ATA and Article 245 of Constitution have the same contexts but with different wordings,” he added.
Article 245, which deals with the functions of the armed forces, states: “The Armed Forces shall, under the directions of the Federal Government, defend Pakistan against external aggression or threat of war, and, subject to law, act in aid of civil power when called upon to do so.”
However, MNA Asad Umar of the PTI while talking to Dawn said such powers can be misused by any state organisation as there was no check and balance.
He said similar powers were also given to the Rangers in Karachi but the decision failed to produce results. “So the chances of its success in Islamabad are also slim,” he maintained.
Chief Commissioner Islamabad Jawad Paul confirmed to Dawn that the Army and Rangers personnel had been given the police powers to enable them to deal with terrorists effectively.
Published in Dawn, June 27th, 2014