ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has initiated the process of consultation with his party’s lawmakers in order to gauge the seriousness of the situation in South Punjab and assess the need for calling up the paramilitary Rangers in the populous province.
The step is undertaken in a bid to end the existing gridlock between the civil and military leaderships over the issue. The paramilitary force is uncomfortable about taking forward positions in the security forces’ operation against criminal elements in South Punjab’s kacha areas, sources revealed.
Even as the Kacha operation is under way with the support of Rangers and Pakistan Army it is the Punjab police units that are fighting at forward positions. Kacha areas include a series of small islands at the confluence of three provinces and five rivers at Rajanpur and Rahim Yar Khan districts. It is thought to be a safe haven for criminals, bandits, terrorists and kidnappers.
According to the latest updates shared by top sources in the federal government, the Rangers has communicated to the provincial government that their mandate is to facilitate the police.
The Rangers has established pickets around riverine islands to secure Kacha area from Punjab’s side; however, the paramilitary force has refused to move to the frontline without legal cover. Sources said the Rangers and Pakistan Army have sought to be requisitioned under Article 147 of the Constitution with special powers under sections 4 and 5 of Anti-Terrorism Act 1997.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 11th, 2016.