Hours after Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan assured Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah that the Rangers’ deployment was not about limiting the authority of anybody and would not be interference in provincial autonomy, the provincial government late Wednesday extended the policing powers of the paramilitary force for 30 days.
A notification to this effect would be issued by the federal interior ministry. Earlier the provincial government used to issue such notifications. According to the spokesperson for the chief minister, endorsement for the Rangers’ policing powers would be sought from the provincial assembly. Four months ago, the paramilitary force was given special powers to detain suspects for 90 days. The permission expired on July 8.
Read: Performance review: Rangers claim Karachi operation helped curb crime
The decision was taken after Pakistan Peoples Party Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari telephoned Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah and directed him to issue a notification of extension in the Rangers’ deployment without any delay.
“In the present circumstances, the relation between the military and the civilian government is praiseworthy,” he said, adding that for the betterment of the country, there was a dire need to strengthen this relationship.
Following the telephone conversation, a meeting was convened at the Chief Minister House, where law experts, the chief secretary and the home secretary were mulling over the issue with the chief minister.
Earlier in the day, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar spoke to Chief Minister Shah by phone to discuss the issue. “I have told the chief minister that deployment of Rangers is not about limiting authority of anybody or interference in the provincial autonomy,” Nisar told a news conference in the federal capital.
He said he has talked to the chief minister about the Rangers’ deployment and the new requisition would come and the issue would be resolved till midnight on Wednesday. “A possible political showdown has apparently been averted,” he added. However, if Sindh does not send the requisition, the Centre will have to extend the stay of the paramilitary force for 24 hours and then withdraw it, he said. “We shall not expose the Rangers in Karachi before giving a legal cover to their stay.”
On Tuesday, Chief Minister Shah had claimed that the provincial government, under the 18th constitutional amendment, was bound to seek the provincial assembly’s approval before allowing the Rangers to continue operating in Karachi under extended powers.
Nisar said if anybody had misunderstanding about the Rangers mandate it would be removed. He said the recent statements of politicians about the Rangers were surprising as these were giving the impression as the force was working outside the ambit of law and regulations.
The interior minister said the Rangers was apolitical and did not take action on the instructions of a political party or against a party. The Rangers was being targeted with a specific aim and it was not possible for the federal government to let others target it. “We will safeguard the dignity of Jawans of the Rangers who protect lives of citizens by putting their life at risk,” he said, adding that the Rangers would not be exposed on the streets of Karachi without a legal cover.
Read: Not sitting it out: MQM chief demands public referendum on Rangers operation
“The Rangers is a force of Sindh and Pakistan and it was deployed in the province and Karachi according to procedure,” he added. He said the paramilitary force was rounding up target killers, extortionists, murderers and other criminals. “Now the force is being politicised. We shall not allow it!”
Nisar said: “It is a force trained to fight on the borders, and when they are deployed in the city, they perform above and beyond the call of duty.”
Scotland Yard team
Pakistan has yet to receive a request from British authorities for handing over the main accused in Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Imran Farooq’s murder case, said the interior minister. “We have not received any formal request from London on the extradition of the accused.”
Nisar said the two-member team of the Scotland Yard had concluded questioning Moazzam Ali Khan. “Now we have given the Scotland Yard team access to the second accused in the case. We have yet to think over giving access to the third accused before Eid.”
The Scotland Yard team also met officials of the FIA and the interior ministry to gather relevant information, said a senior official in the interior ministry.
As the FIA team concluded its investigation into two key cases – the Imran Farooq murder case and the MQM being allegedly funded by India – the findings would be analysed and shared with the UK government, according to the interior minister.
Meanwhile, regarding extension of FIA’s powers, Nisar said the agency only had the authority in the areas that did not fall under the provincial police’s jurisdiction.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 9th, 2015.