KARACHI: Ignoring the federal government’s as well as the Rangers’ desire to grant the paramilitary force policing powers for the whole of Sindh, the PPP-led provincial government on Monday decided to keep the arrangement unchanged: the Rangers will enjoy special powers for three months to be applicable to Karachi division.

Twelve days after the authority of the paramilitary force to police the provincial capital expired, newly-elected Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah signed a summary prepared by the home department, allowing the Sindh Rangers to continue to conduct raids and arrest criminals in Karachi’s six districts for the next 90 days.

Mr Shah also approved another summary, allowing the Rangers to stay in Sindh for another year.

In 1989, the then government of the Pakistan Peoples Party had called Pakistan Rangers, Sindh, to assist the police in Karachi under Article 147 (power of the provinces to entrust functions to the federation) of the Constitution.

The issue of extension in Rangers’ powers and their mandate to entire Sindh was first raised by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on July 19, when he wrote to then chief minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, requesting him to extend the Rangers’ policing powers to the whole of province.

The PPP government and party leadership deliberated upon the issue against the backdrop of a controversy involving Asad Kharal and a demand of the establishment seeking removal of then home minister Sohail Anwar Siyal.

While Qaim Ali Shah lost his job in the process, Mr Siyal managed to be included in the new cabinet, though this time he would be heading the agriculture ministry instead of the powerful home ministry.

On Sunday, PPP co-chairman Asif Zardari directed the CM to sign the summaries pertaining to Rangers’ special powers and their stay in the province.

On Monday, Mr Shah presided over a meeting on law and order at which he signed the summaries.

He said at the meeting held at CM House that the Rangers and police had performed wonderfully by restoring peace in the provincial capital.

“We must appreciate their struggle and sacrifices they rendered for restoring law and order in Sindh,” he said and added that the role of the two forces in eradicating terrorism was commendable.

“They have performed exceptionally well in nabbing target killers and successfully carried out crackdown against extortionists, which is undoubtedly commendable.”

Chief Secretary Siddique Memon presented the summaries in which the home department had recommended for an extension in the stay of Rangers in Sindh for another one year and granting them special power for 90 days.

The chief minister approved the summaries and asked the chief secretary to coordinate with the federal government for issuance of notification at the earliest.

Amicable settlement

Maula Bux Chandio, adviser to chief minister on information, said that the Rangers’ powers issue had been resolved amicably that would help maintain law and order in Karachi.

“Chief Minister Shah has granted special powers to Rangers soon after assuming office that will pave way towards stability and peace and encourage business environment and social milieu,” he added.

“The Sindh government is committed to maintaining law and order in the province to ensure development and prosperity of its people,” Mr Chandio said in a statement.

He said the federal government now needed to adopt a positive attitude towards Sindh and desist itself from putting unwarranted pressure on the provincial government.

“The Sindh government is running its affairs as per the Constitution for good of masses. Business community and civil society are also fully satisfied with our endeavours to bring forth peace. Hence, there is no need to put hurdles in democratic process in Sindh.

“With changes in the Sindh cabinet, institutions providing security and essential services will strengthen, and people will soon heave a sigh of relief,” Mr Chandio said.

During the meeting at the CM House, Inspector General of Police A.D. Khowaja briefed Mr Shah on the law and order scene in Sindh and invited the CM to visit the Central Police Office, which the latter accepted.

Published in Dawn, August 2nd, 2016