Taking exception to the raids at the offices of the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) and Lines Area Redevelopment Project (LARP) and the arrest of its officials, the Sindh government has reminded the Rangers that the paramilitary force was transgressing its powers and authority.
In a letter addressed to Rangers director-general Major General Bilal Akbar on Wednesday, the Sindh chief minister Qaim Ali Shah asked the Rangers to stop playing an unacceptable role beyond its mandate, suggesting that the paramilitary force limit its movements in accordance with the authority given to it.
The letter, a copy of which was also sent to federal interior minister Chaudhry Nisar, states that the deployment of the Rangers in Karachi was requisitioned under article 147 of the Constitution and clause 1 of subsection 3 of section 4 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, to prevent terrorist acts or scheduled offences.
“However, it has been reported that the offices of the SBCA and LARP were raided on June 15 and the officers were harassed, waylaid and also mishandled,” it went on to say. “This reflects that the Rangers are acting beyond their authorities and mandate as per law assigned specifically in the notification of September 10, 2009, issued by the home department, Government of Sindh. It is therefore advised to restrict your movement as per the authority given to you.”
The Sindh CM took up the issue a day after Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari expressed his annoyance over the role of the establishment. Earlier, many PPP leaders had questioned the authority of Rangers DG when the latter said that billions of rupees were being generated from Karachi through illegal means.
Officials in the Sindh government said that the CM was also consulting constitutional experts to devise a further line of action if the Rangers did not desist. “There is fear in all the government departments following the raid by the Rangers personnel, who have no authority to take such action,” said a CM House spokesperson. “This interference in the affairs of democratic government irked the CM, leading him to write to the Rangers DG and register a complaint with the prime minister on his recent visit to Karachi.”
The spokesperson added that apex committees have also been formed in other provinces but no such action was being taken there. “The CM and other relevant authorities should be taken into confidence before such raids.”
Sindh advocate-general Abdul Fatah Malik said that the Rangers had to take part in the on-going targeted operation but they could not interfere in the affairs of the civilian government. “The provincial government has given the Rangers policing powers that can be withdrawn,” he pointed out. “The Rangers, a border security force, were called to maintain law and order. The Sindh government extends its tenure to live in the province every year and has the power to stop giving it extensions.”
On Monday, the Rangers raided the SBCA office in Civic Centre, acquiring a stash of data and taking photographs of documents. In another, allegedly connected, raid by the National Accountability Bureau, on the Larp office in Lines Area on the same day, five top officials of the project were arrested in connection with land-grabbing and fraud worth billions of rupees.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 18th, 2015.