KARACHI: The Sindh provincial authorities have been given the go-ahead to grant an extension in the special powers of the Sindh Rangers in Karachi after getting an endorsement of the matter through the Sindh Assembly according to the spirit of the Constitution.
This transpired at a meeting between the Chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, and the former president and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari in Dubai on Tuesday evening.
Sources privy to the meeting (between Zardari and Bilawal) said that the Sindh government could grant conditional approval to the extension in the validity of special powers of the Rangers with the condition that the paramilitary force had to give prior intimation and notice to the concerned superior provincial authorities, including the chief minister, before making any arrest of a political nature, and the chief minister would give his approval.
It would be decided during the provincial assembly session starting December 10 whether the Rangers’ special anti-terrorism policing powers in Karachi and stay in the province would be extended or not.
Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah told reporters on Tuesday that the issue of extending the powers granted to Rangers would be resolved through talks and discussion.
“As per the Constitution, the endorsement of the provincial assembly is compulsory for extending powers granted to a federal institution or agency and giving permission to it to stay,” he added.
“Rangers and police have performed very well and that can’t be ignored at all.”
Qaim Ali Shah said the coordination between the federation and the provinces had been smooth and he held the prime minister and the army chief in high regard.
“It’s a good sign that the federation has started taking interest in the affairs of the province.”
Meanwhile, Sindh Education and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Nisar Khuhro told reporters at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre: “We are not against extending the paramilitary force’s powers in the city.
“But as per the Constitution, extending Rangers’ special powers in Karachi and stay in the province requires the provincial assembly’s endorsement.”
Rangers’ special powers had expired on December 5 and so far, despite the military and the federal government’s pressure, the provincial government has been reluctant to extend the paramilitary force’s powers, citing reservations on some of its actions.
Khuhro said the assembly session had not convened since August 12 and because of that, a summary sent to the chief minister for extending the paramilitary force’s powers could not be signed.
He said the provincial assembly members would discuss during the session as to whether Rangers’ special powers should be extended for another term or not.“We want peace in the province and government wants to ensure the provision of lasting security to the masses,” he maintained.
“The Karachi operation will continue till every terrorist is eliminated in the city and for that, we won’t isolate Rangers as the paramilitary force has played an important role in the fight against terrorism.”
Khuhro said the provincial government had sought Rangers’ assistance in restoring peace in Karachi and the crackdown on criminals in the city had helped in controlling extortion, kidnapping and murder cases.
“The local government elections were conducted peacefully in Karachi because of the operation and the role of both police and Rangers is commendable.The law and order situation in Karachi is a lot better in comparison with the past when there were bomb blasts at rallies and public gatherings.”
To a query, he said changes in the provincial cabinet were an ongoing process as the government and the party had the authority to change the portfolios of ministers at any time.Separately, Moula Bux Chandio, the chief minister’s adviser on information, said the extension of Rangers’ policing powers in Karachi was a “non-issue” and the chief minister would soon approve the summary in this connection.
“After the summary is signed, Rangers will have a legal cover in respect of their role in eliminating terrorism, he told reporters at his office after chairing a meeting of the information department.“The provincial government is determined to eliminate terrorism will never compromise over this national issue.”
However, he said, the provincial government had some reservations over the power granted to Rangers and the issued would soon be sorted out amicably.Chandio dispelled the notion that Rangers’ powers were being curtailed. He also categorically refuted that there were any differences between the provincial government and the paramilitary force.
To a question, he said as the Muttahida Qaumi Movement was a representative political entity of Sindh, there was nothing unusual in initiating a political dialogue with it. However, he added, the Pakistan People’s Party had not formed a political alliance with the MQM and no understanding had been reached with the latter following the local bodies elections.
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