ISLAMABAD: With the term of Rangers’ deployment in Karachi having expired on Sunday, it appears that there are differences between the federal and Sindh governments over extending their mandate.
It came as no surprise, then, when the interior minister announced that he and the prime minister would be headed to Governor’s House in Karachi on Monday to attend a top-level meeting on the law and order situation in Sindh.
Monday’s meeting in Karachi will be attended by Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad, Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Home Minister Sohail Anwar Sial and top military officials, including the Karachi corps commander, the Sindh DG Rangers and the heads of other law-enforcement agencies.
On Sunday, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan regretted that Sindh had not made a decision on the issue of extending the Rangers’ deployment over the past two weeks. “They should have done it by Saturday,” he remarked, insisting that Rangers could not be left in the province without legal cover and would be pulled out if no extension was given. The decision, he noted, ultimately lay with the provincial government.
PPP spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar told Dawn that no decision would be taken on Rangers’ continued deployment in the province unless it was approved by the Sindh government.
“The responsibility and the power to extend the mandate of Rangers rests with the provincial government,” he said.
The PPP has been complaining about Rangers’ activities, especially after they acted against alleged irregularities and corruption in the land department of the provincial government.
Talking to Dawn, MQM leader Farooq Sattar said that although his party had not opposed to the operation against terrorism and extremism, it had some reservations over cases where Rangers had acted against their mandate.
He said a meeting of senior MQM leaders would also be held on Monday to review the situation against the backdrop of the proposed extension of Rangers’ deployment.
Mr Sattar was of the view that the governments at the centre and in Sindh should take all stakeholders on board so that a unanimous decision could be taken.
Rumours that the PPP was unwilling to give the Rangers an extension in Karachi have been doing the rounds since the party began delaying a decision on the matter.
Sources in the Sindh government say that while the provincial government may agree to extend Rangers’ deployment in Karachi, it would definitely ask the federal government to revisit their mandate.
The federal government gave special powers to Rangers in Karachi in June 2015, under the Anti-Terrorism Act, to arrest anyone found involved in violence.
The arrest of PPP leader Dr Asim Hussain for his alleged role in terror financing is one of the most high-profile examples of Rangers exercising their special powers.