PM steps in to resolve row over Rangers’ special powers

Published: December 14, 2015
In late-night phone call, Nawaz assures Sindh CM their grievances will be addressed: REUTERS

In late-night phone call, Nawaz assures Sindh CM their grievances will be addressed: REUTERS


Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif stepped in late Sunday night to defuse a brewing controversy between the centre and Sindh over the extension of special powers to the paramilitary Rangers. After returning from Turkmenistan, the prime minister called up Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah to discuss the matter.

According to sources, Nawaz and Shah discussed the prevailing law and order situation in the province. Shah briefed the premier about his government’s grievances vis-à-vis actions of the paramilitary force. He also complained to the premier about Saturday’s statements of the federal interior minister, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.

Sindh govt hampering Karachi operation to save ‘just one man’: Nisar

At a news conference Nisar had said that the Pakistan Peoples Party was “hampering [the] Karachi operation to save one person [Dr Asim Hussain]”. He also threatened to make public the joint investigation report and supposed video confession of Dr Asim, on whom the entire controversy appears to be centred. Shah told the prime minister that his administration fully supported the Rangers. He also assured the premier that the targeted operation in Karachi would continue.

On his part, the prime minister assured the Sindh chief minister that the provincial government’s concerns would be addressed. They also decided to meet in Islamabad after Nawaz’s return from this three-day China tour where he will be attending a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meeting.

Earlier in the day there were reports that the Sindh government will seek the assembly’s endorsement for extension of Rangers’ special powers. The assembly will convene on Monday (today).

The Sindh Assembly’s agenda for Monday (today) lists the resolution on ratifying Article 147 of the Constitution, which would extend special powers for the paramilitary Rangers in province, on number 11.

But Chief Minister Shah argued that calls for resolving the issue quickly were unwarranted. “We are well within the constitutional parameters, then why is there an unnecessary hue and cry,” Shah told reporters outside Benazir Bhutto’s mausoleum in Garhi Khuda Bux, Larkana.

Dissent: PPP leaders hit out at Chaudhry Nisar

Under the Constitution, the extension has to be ratified by the provincial assembly within a period of 60 days. Shah added that it may take them a few of days to complete the process. “Some people are ignoring this fact and are politicising this issue but I assure you that they will be disappointed,” he said without naming any one.

Ever since it embarked on an operation against criminals and terrorists, the paramilitary force has been granted special powers under which it can carry out investigations, conduct raids without a warrant and detain suspects for 90 days. But those powers – which are usually invoked for a stipulated period – lapsed on December 5.

To extend those powers for another term, the provincial authorities turned for the first time to the Sindh Assembly. “I’m in constant contact with Rangers and they are also in touch with me,” Shah added. “They (Rangers) were, are and will stand with us in the struggle to eliminate terrorists, restore peace.”

Karachi traders demand extension of Rangers’ special powers

Referring to Nisar’s comments, Shah said the interior minister seemed to have mixed up different issues. He reiterated his stance that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was over stepping its jurisdiction. “We have not requested their assistance and their work in Sindh needs to be ratified by the assembly just like special powers for the Rangers.”

Meanwhile, Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad said there were some legal bindings due to which an extension of special powers for the Rangers needed to be ratified by the provincial assembly. “It is an administrative issue, which can be resolved.”

Opposition to protest

Members of the opposition in the Sindh Assembly have decided to stage a protest if the resolution is not ratified on Monday.

Talking to The Express Tribune, PTI MPA Khurrum Sher Zaman said that they had moved a resolution in the assembly for Rangers to be accorded special powers. If the Sindh government fail to the assembly’s endorsement for its resolution, the opposition will take it up.

Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) parliamentary party leader Nand Kumar said his party would stage a protest within and outside the house if the resolution was not ratified.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 14th,  2015.

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Reader Comments (7)

  • Rex Minor
    Dec 14, 2015 - 2:58AM

    Ever since it embarked on an operation against criminals and terrorists, the paramilitary force has been granted special powers under which it can carry out investigations, conduct raids without a warrant and detain suspects for 90 days. But those powers – which are usually invoked for a stipulated period – lapsed on December 5.

    This tantamounts to state of emergency, parlising of provincial Govenment and the judiciary which can only be justified at a National level not provinial level. Pakistan has inherited a colonial system of Government and it must be abondoned for the sake of peace and harmony in the community.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Enough
    Dec 14, 2015 - 5:33AM

    Sindh is becoming a state within a state. Repeal the 18th Amendment. Recommend

  • Sharath Chandra
    Dec 14, 2015 - 6:03AM

    Pakistan is concerned about “human rights violation” of every other country expect human rights violation in Pakistan. No wonder its foreign policy is such a disaster.Recommend

  • sabi
    Dec 14, 2015 - 8:03AM

    Sindh government will not go against the popular voice of the entire country so the decision will be in the affirmative.Recommend

  • Faruk chowhdry
    Dec 14, 2015 - 11:46AM

    Sir PM you don’t have to step in to resolve Rangers issue let the Home minister do this job this is the only way to find out the performance of the minister, Rangers and police has lost lots of lives just to restore peace in Karachi, let them finish he job,it’s now or never. You sir have made mistake once before when you stopped the operation in 90’s when it was going very well. Recommend

  • Parvez
    Dec 14, 2015 - 1:07PM

    The 18th Amendment was introduced for the corrupt leaders, by the corrupt leaders….but in the name of the poor people of Pakistan. Recommend

  • S.R.H. Hashmi
    Dec 14, 2015 - 6:20PM

    If only one person, who happens to be from Peoples Party (and is incidentally an Urdu-speaking one) is picked up for deep probe for corruption, Peoples Party is quite justified in protesting about it. The injustice becomes even more obvious when it is considered that the ‘veterans in corruption’ who have done it for decades, are left untouched, while also given due respect by even the most powerful lobby in Pakistan.
    It is stated that the reason for picking up Dr. Asim Hussain for such treatment is that his corruption is terror-related However, come to think of it, no corruption is humanitarian. In fact, by robbing the country of the limited resources that it has, corruption creates unemployment, poverty and gives rise to dissatisfaction among the masses which, in turn, creates a massive pool of disgruntled people from among whom the terrorist get their recruits. So, no corruption is noble, and all corruption is terror-related.

    The corruption by the ‘veterans’ is even more despicable because the looted money is taken abroad and invested there. At least Dr Asim Hussain invested all his earnings, from whatever source, within the country and created institutions which provide employment to a very large number of people while also providing useful services. And that makes his corruption less, and not more despicable.

    Pakistan indeed needs to be cured of corruption, but it has to be done across the board, in all provinces, but if the powerful lot do not have the courage to do that, they should leave this field altogether, instead of doing this on selective basis, catching relatively small fish and leaving out sharks altogether.

    And Nawaz Sharif must find a replacement for good-for-nothing, big-mouth Chaudhry Nisar whose wife and children are American nationals, and on which basis he can only be considered as sort of an expatriate here. And if Nawaz Sharif lacks courage to do that, he should at least put him on a leash. While dealing with even seniors in other provinces, he comes down to the level of a small-time thug and starts issuing ultimatums and hurling threats. This is the sort of mindset which resulted in the separation of East Pakistan and is partly behind the unrest in Balochistan, putting even ordinary, hard-working labourers from Punjab at risk in Balochistan.


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