ISLAMABAD: The government on Thursday ordered the Frontier Constabulary (FC) to provide security around the Parliament House a day after the elite Rangers unit withdrew its guards without explanation.
On Wednesday, the Punjab Rangers and Quick Response Force (QRF), which provides security around parliament, withdrew unilaterally, taking the interior ministry by surprise.
“I was told the Rangers have unilaterally withdrawn from the important installations where they were on duty, which, for us, was shocking,” Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal told a private news channel, adding, “This was a gross violation.”
On Thursday, FC personnel could be seen in strength outside parliament as a backend force to assist police.
Though there has been no official denial or confirmation of the withdrawal of the Rangers, the change from the paramilitary force to the FC outside parliament was conspicuous.
The government will take action after completing an inquiry into the withdrawal, Ahsan added.
“The Rangers are a force subordinate to the Ministry of Interior and when they are deployed, they are supposed to work under the civil administration,” he said.
An unexplained dispute between Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal and the elite paramilitary force is adding to political confusion in the federal capital, prompting questions about a rift in ties between civilian leaders and the military.
This followed after the Rangers had denied the interior minister entry to a court building where matters relating to an anti-graft case against deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif were being heard, prompting him to threaten to resign, saying he refused to be ‘a puppet interior minister’.
Police downplayed the issue, saying both the paramilitary forces have been assisting the capital police whenever needed.
Though widely reported in the media, there has been no official statement over the Rangers withdrawal from the Parliament House so far.
While police have downplayed the issue, saying the Rangers had not been requisitioned for the ongoing session of the National Assembly, officials at the interior ministry also kept mum over the issue.
(With additional input from News Desk)