KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah on Sunday extended the policing powers of Rangers for a period of 60 days effective December 6.
According to a Sindh government notification, the Rangers will be able to take action against terrorism, sectarianism, target killings, extortion and kidnapping for ransom.
The extension of two months was accorded after a resolution pertaining to special powers of Rangers was approved by the Sindh Assembly. The resolution, however, limited the powers of the paramilitary force.
Sources say that Rangers were supposed to get an extension for 120 days but the Sindh government has approved the extension for 60 days only.
The new powers do not include the right to raid government offices and interrogation of officers without prior permission of Sindh chief minister.
The notification comes a day after Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah warned federal government of ‘serious implications’ if governor’s rule was imposed in Sindh.
“A democratic dispensation is working in the country. There is no reason for governor rule to be imposed,” the chief minister told journalists after the Sindh University convocation in Jamshoro on Saturday.
“If it is imposed, it will have serious implications,” he warned. “The federal government does not have the authority to impose governor’s rule in Sindh or in any other province,” he maintained.
On the issue of Rangers policing authority in Karachi, the chief minister had said, “When the Karachi operation was launched, the chief minister was made its captain. But it appears that while the head is still there, the cap has gone.”
Shah’s sarcasm indicated he believed he had been sidelined in decisions being made about the Karachi operation.
The Sindh government, in last few months, has been accusing the Rangers of overstepping their authority, particularly in two cases: the raids on Sindh Building Control Authority offices and the arrest of Dr Asim Hussain, chairman of Sindh Higher Education Commission and a close associate of PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari. The Sindh government has repeatedly brought its concerns into the notice of federal government as well as the prime minister.
Rangers were called into Sindh in 1989 by the PPP-led government in Sindh to control lawlessness in many parts of the province. At the time, the province was ridden with ethnic strife and dacoits. But, the Rangers got special powers after amendments to the Anti-Terrorism Act, which authorised them to probe cases about terror financing.
The Dec 16 resolution, in which word ‘terrorism’ was replaced with ‘sectarian killing’, reads, “The Pakistan Rangers (Sindh) will have powers in respect of only target killing, extortion, kidnapping for ransom and sectarian killing.”
“If the resolution is read carefully,” the CM clarified, “It would be evident that the Rangers powers are not curbed by any law. There is only the point of discipline by law enforcing agencies that must be adhered to.” “The law enforcing agencies are satisfied with it,” he further attested.
The resolution was adopted in line with Article 147 of the constitution which talks about ratification of any action taken by the provincial government.
NEO Web Desk