KARACHI: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif are in Karachi today to sort out the issue of the Rangers' deployment in the provincial capital city as the term of the paramilitary force’s operation expired two days earlier.
The law and order situation of Karachi as well as the rest of Sindh also came under discussion.
While chairing a high-level meeting at Governor House, Nawaz Sharif said, "There will be no compromise on the law and order situation of Karachi."
The meeting was attended by General Raheel Sharif, Corps Commmander Karachi Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar, Director General Rangers Sindh Major General Bilal Akbar, Chief Minister Sindh Qaim Ali Shah, Federal Interior Minister Sindh Chaudhry Nisar, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Inspector General Sindh Ghulam Haider Jamali, Commissioner Karachi Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui, Provincial Finance Minister Murad Ali Shah, Sindh Home Minister Suhail Anwar Siyal and Home Secretary Sindh.
Operation should have started eight years ago: PM
"The Karachi operation should have been initiated eight years ago," the premier said during the meeting, adding that the decision to undertake the operation was made with consensus. "The federal government fully supports the Sindh government for peace in Karachi."
"The targets of the Karachi operation are very clear," he said.
The premier said business activities have picked up after an improvement in law and order and that foreign investment is being redirected to the country from abroad.
The PM expressed his disappointment on weak prosecution and investigation procedures that are being implemented in Karachi.
Nawaz Sharif earlier met with Chief Minister Sindh Qaim Ali Shah at Governor House.
IG Sindh police briefs meeting
Sindh Police Insepector General (IG) Ghulam Haider Jamali said that there are 2,688 cases under way at Karachi ATCs.
"There were 66 cases handled during the month of November," he said.
Out of these, 30 cases resulted in convictions while the remaining resulted in aquittals, he added.
"Assailants involved in the attacks on Rangers and the Military Police personnel have been caught," he stated.
Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah also said on the occasion that the security operation in Karachi will continue till the elimination of the last terrorist in the metropolis.
In order to expedite the process of prosecution, 200 prosecutors have been appointed, he said.
"The Sindh Police should be given access to APCs, additional arms and the NADRA database in order to effectively manage the city," Nisar further recommended. He said an additional 30 ATCs are under construction.
Ths Sindh CM also recommended that the apex committee should be summoned as often as possible.
"The Karachi operation seems to be lacking the amount of support it initially witnessed when the operation commenced," said Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar.
He further recommended that all prosecutions be monitored by the apex committee.
Nisar also commended the security personnel for their efforts, and stated, "Security personnel deployed in Karachi have made outstanding sacrifices for the Karachi operation."
COAS visits Corps V HQ
The Army chief also chaired a meeting earlier at the headquarters of V Corps to review the security situation.
The meeting was attended by Corps Commander Karachi, Director-General (DG) Inter-Services Intelligence Lieutenant General Rizwan Akhtar and the DG Rangers.
The army chief lauded the Rangers, intelligence agencies and other law enforcement agencies for "noticeable improvement" in the security situation in Karachi through ongoing operations and the peaceful conduct during local government elections held in the metropolis on Saturday.
Differences between federal and Sindh government
According to earlier reports, it appears that there are differences between the federal and Sindh governments over extending the paramilitary forces' mandate.
On Sunday, Nisar expressed regret that Sindh had not made a decision on the issue of extending the Rangers’ deployment over the past two weeks.
"They should have done it by Saturday," he had remarked, insisting that Rangers could not be left in the province without legal cover and would be pulled out if no extension was given. The decision, he noted, ultimately lay with the provincial government.
PPP spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar earlier told Dawn that no decision would be taken on Rangers’ continued deployment in the province unless it was approved by the Sindh government.
"The responsibility and the power to extend the mandate of Rangers rests with the provincial government," he said.
The PPP has been complaining about Rangers’ activities, especially after they acted against alleged irregularities and corruption in the land department of the provincial government.
Talking to Dawn, MQM leader Farooq Sattar earlier said that although his party had not opposed the operation against terrorism and extremism, it had some reservations over cases where Rangers had acted against their mandate.
He said a meeting of senior MQM leaders would also be held on Monday to review the situation against the backdrop of the proposed extension of Rangers’ deployment.
Sattar was of the view that the governments at the centre and in Sindh should take all stakeholders on board so that a unanimous decision could be taken.
Rumours that the PPP was unwilling to give the Rangers an extension in Karachi have been doing the rounds since the party began delaying a decision on the matter.
Sources in the Sindh government say that while the provincial government may agree to extend Rangers’ deployment in Karachi, it would definitely ask the federal government to revisit their mandate.
The federal government gave special powers to Rangers in Karachi in June 2015, under the Anti-Terrorism Act, to arrest anyone found involved in violence.
The arrest of PPP leader Dr Asim Hussain for his alleged role in terror financing is one of the most high-profile examples of Rangers exercising their special powers.
Background: Karachi operation
The Rangers are currently leading an operation against criminal elements in Karachi which completed two years in September this year.
The ‘operation’ against criminal elements in Pakistan’s commercial hub was initiated back in September 2013 after the federal cabinet empowered Rangers 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.
A high-level apex committee meeting chaired by the Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif on May 14, 2015 decided to implement effective policing and surveillance in the "vast suburbs of Karachi", to prevent what the military spokesperson said were "sneaking terrorist attacks".
The second phase of the Karachi operation was launched in early November. Rangers said terrorists, contract killers and their facilitators involved in attacks on LEA personnel "especially police, lawyers and witnesses" would be arrested during this phase, and that such elements would be eliminated.
Police sources have said that three elements — a political party, banned sectarian outfits and hired assassins — were responsible for the recent killings of the law-enforcers in the metropolis.
They also said that policemen were being targeted to undermine the perceived effectiveness of the Karachi operation since the number of targeted killings had dropped to one or two from 8-10 per day.
In late November, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan hinted that the security forces’ operation against criminals in Karachi would be expedited and pursued till its logical conclusion.