The provincial government has decided to let the Rangers keep their police powers till further notice and have also decided to form Joint Interrogation Teams (JIT) for each district in the city, said Sindh Home Minister Manzoor Wassan on Wednesday.
“We have received authentic and impartial reports from the JITs and have decided to form district-wide teams,” he said at a press conference at the Sindh Secretariat.
Grade 19 police officers would be responsible for the JITs and each team would investigate suspects arrested within their jurisdiction. The Rangers and Inter-Services Intelligence personnel would also be a part of the JITs.
Answering a question on the army, Wassan claimed that the government had decided that the police and Rangers were enough for now and would continue to conduct search operations in sensitive areas.
The home minister said that during the recent operation, the police and Rangers had arrested around 1,249 suspects along with 42 alleged target killers. He added that there had been no target killings since the authorities had taken over. “The police have arrested 782 people from different areas and have seized 189 weapons from suspects,” he said. “The Rangers have arrested 467 suspects out of which 19 have been handed over to the police for further investigation.”
The Mirza files
Criticising the former home minister, Zulfiqar Mirza, Wassan claimed that his statements should not be taken seriously. “The government has accepted his resignation as minister and senior vice president of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP),” he said. “However, the party’s central executive committee still has to make a decision about Mirza’s other positions.”
In an emotionally charged moment, the home minister claimed that he was also a jiyalo, a diehard PPP worker and had made sacrifices for the party. “I fail to understand why Mirza remained silent for three years and suddenly started talking about being pressured to release target killers,” said Wassan. “I know what sorts of efforts have been made to improve the police department. So why did my friend, who claimed to be serious about reforming the police department, not take a stand when he was home minister?”
Wassan denied reports that alleged target killers, including Kamran Madhuri, were being released under pressure. He added that the government had been successful in maintaining the law and order situation in the city and he asked the media to highlight the government’s progress.
The home minister said that when he briefed the president about the police requirements and challenges, the president approved a budget of Rs5 billion for armoured personnel carriers, bullet-proof jackets, helmets and weapons. The budget was being looked after by the federal government and so far the provincial government had secured 15 armoured personnel carriers.
Following orders issued by the Supreme Court, Wassan said that the provincial government had appointed six judges to the Anti-Terrorism Court on Wednesday. He said that the judges have been appointed on the recommendation of the Sindh High Court (SHC) chief justice. Five of the judges were still serving and the other one was a former SHC judge.
Discussing the ongoing Karachi violence case, the home minister asked why the Supreme Court did not take similar steps for violence in Balochistan and the Punjab where people were also being killed.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 8th, 2011.
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