KARACHI: Senior PPP leader and Sindh Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs Nisar Ahmad Khuhro on Tuesday announced that the Sindh Assembly has been called upon to procure a legal endorsement to extend the period of special Rangers' powers in the province.
"The matter has been passed onto the Sindh Assembly," he stated, adding that the approval should take a maximum of two days. The term of the paramilitary force’s operation expired on Sunday.
Talking to media on Tuesday during a seminar organized by Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Centre, Khuhro said that because the assembly has not been in session for some time, the decision of extending the Rangers' special powers could not be signed by the Chief Minister.
Khuhro added that while there is no disagreement on the matter of the paramilitary force's extension, procedure must be followed, and a constitutional cover is needed to be given to the process by the provincial assembly.
He stressed upon the Sindh government's commitment to the cause of law and order for which optimum security would be provided to the masses. Khuhro also lauded the Rangers' efforts in maintaining law and order in Sindh.
"There is no point of contention on the matter," said Khuhro, adding that the Rangers were called in to support the police force on the request of the provincial government, only after a consensus among all other political parties in the province.
“But in accordance with the law, the Sindh Assembly must approve it first," he added.
The Assembly is scheduled to meet on December 10.
It is pertinent to mention that the Rangers' special police powers in Sindh expired on Sunday, Dec 6.
Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Khurshid Ahmed Shah expressed concerns over the Karachi operation, and demanded that the operation be kept apolitical.
"We have concerns over actions being taken against politicians during the operation," he stated.
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.
Maula Bux Chandio, Adviser to Chief Minister on Information, also arrived on Tuesday to “address the media’s complaints” on the matter of the Rangers' deployment in Karachi.
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.
In late November, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan also hinted that the security forces’ operation against criminals in Karachi would be expedited and pursued till its logical conclusion.