KARACHI: The Sindh government has linked further extension of special policing powers for Pakistan Rangers with approval by the provincial assembly.

The assembly has been summoned for Thursday.

“We are not in a hurry to extend the Rangers’ special powers as under the constitution it is obligatory to get approval from the provincial assembly for acquiring the service of a federal institution,” Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah said on Tuesday.

He was talking to media after launching a ‘competency based training and skills development programme’ at a hotel here.

In reply to a question, the chief minister said he was quite satisfied with the performance of police and Rangers in improving the law and order in Karachi to a great extent.

The special policing powers which were granted to the paramilitary force last August for four months, allowing it to detain suspects for 90 days, had expired on Dec 6.

As a summary submitted to the chief minister for extending Rangers’ special powers has not been signed so far, it has become a hot issue in political circles.

The issue was also raised at a meeting in Karachi on Monday with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the chair. It was attended by Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif, Defence Minister Khwaja Asif, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and top officials of security and law enforcement agencies.

According to reliable sources, the chief minister has given an assurance to the prime minister that the extension would be granted.

The Sindh government sent a summary to Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad on Tuesday to summon a session of the provincial assembly on Dec 10.

The Sindh government gave the last extension to the special powers for Rangers in July this year, but without taking the issue to the provincial assembly.

When Sindh’s Senior Minister for Education Nisar Ahmad Khuhro was asked about delay in signing by the chief minister of the summary for the extension, he said the provincial government was not opposed to it. The provincial government wanted to meet the constitutional formality of getting its approval from the Sindh Assembly, he added.

Mr Khuhro was talking to reporters before a seminar at the Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Centre, Karachi.

In reply to a question, he said the Sindh government would continue the operation in Karachi till the elimination of all terrorists. He appreciated the role of police and Rangers in bringing improvement in security situation in Karachi.

A spokesperson for the Sindh government on Tuesday called the debate on the extension to Rangers’ powers in Karachi a “non-issue”, saying that the nod from the chief minister was expected “soon”. But at the same time he said that the provincial government had some reservations on the issue.

“The Sindh government is fully determined to eliminate terrorism from the province and will never compromise on this national issue,” said Moula Bux Chandio, adviser to the Sindh chief minister on information.

“However, the government has some reservations that must be resolved amicably. The extension in the stay of the Rangers in Karachi is a non-issue and the chief minister will soon approve the summary for extension to special powers to the paramilitary force.”

Addressing a press conference at his office after chairing a meeting of Sindh information department, Mr Chandio dispelled an impression that the Sindh government was trying to curtail the powers of Rangers in the province.

Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2015

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