KARACHI: The Sindh government issued a much-awaited notification in the early hours of Thursday morning, extending the special policing powers assigned to Rangers in the province for a month, after a high-level meeting between senior officials at the CM House.
Special policing powers assigned to Rangers in the province, which have in the past been extended every few months via orders from the provincial government, had expired on Wednesday at midnight – July 8, 2015.
Before the issuance of an official notification by the Sindh government in this regard, Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah held a meeting with Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to discuss the issue of Rangers’ special powers in Sindh.
It had also been reported on local media that former president and PPP co-chairperson Asif Zardari talked to Qaim Ali Shah via telephone from Dubai earlier on Wednesday, asking him to expedite the process to issue the notification seeking extension in the duration of Rangers’ policing powers in Sindh.
While the Sindh government has been granting extensions in the duration of Rangers’ policing powers via notifications from the home department every three months since 2010, this time around a standoff between the paramilitary force and the Sindh government had led the chief minister to mull other options.
In statements over the past two days, Qaim Ali Shah stressed that following the passage of the 18th Amendment, the matter of extension was to be decided by the provincial legislature, giving rise to uncertainty on what course of action, if any, will be taken to continue the paramilitary force’s operations in Sindh.
Earlier on Wednesday, Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said the federal government was hopeful it will receive the Sindh government’s requisition seeking extension in the duration of Rangers policing powers in the province.
Addressing a press conference hours before the expiry of a deadline in the special powers assigned to Rangers in Sindh, Nisar said the Centre had been communicating with the provincial government on the issue of extension in Rangers’ operational powers.
Nisar said there had been doubts on whether the provincial government will extend the duration of Rangers’ powers this time around. “In case they did not extend the duration, we [federal government] had decided to extend the force’s powers through a notification for 24 hours so that they perform security duties for Youm-i-Ali.”
But the interior minister said he had talked to the Sindh chief minister a while ago and an extension notification for Rangers from the Sindh government was expected till midnight today (Wednesday).
Nisar lamented the criticism levelled against the force. “Rangers are being targeted and criticised despite their tremendous efforts.”
He added that Rangers personnel had risked their lives to secure Karachi. “It is a paramilitary force equipped and trained to fight enemies. When they are deployed to secure cities they go over and above their call of duty.”
He termed political criticism of the Sindh Rangers “unacceptable,” saying the force does not take any action at the behest of any political party.
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