ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said on Wednesday that the federal government is hopeful it will receive the Sindh government’s requisition seeking extension in Rangers presence 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 has been communicating with the provincial government on the issue of the extension of the Rangers’ operation.
Nisar said Rangers have been deployed in Karachi in accordance with the law and they have brought peace and stability in the metropolis.
Rangers are an apolitical force, they do not take any action at the behest of any political party, said the interior minister.
“It is not possible for the federal govt to allow Rangers to be targeted like this – it is a federal force,” he added.
“If the Sindh government does not wish to extend the powers of Rangers, then under no circumstances we will expose Rangers on the streets of Karachi without legal cover.”
The interior minister lamented the criticism levelled against the force. “Rangers are being targeted and criticised despite their tremendous efforts.”
He added that Rangers personnel have 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”.
In an apparent response to repeated Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) allegations that the operation in Karachi is political, Nisar said: “Rangers are an apolitical force. They do not take any action at the behest of any political party.”
MQM chief Altaf Hussain on Tuesday asked Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah and all members of the Sindh Assembly to pass a bill to “send back the oppressive Rangers.”
Interestingly, this demand by Hussain comes a day before Rangers’ special powers in Sindh are due to expire. While the duration of these special powers has been extended multiple times in the past, it is not clear whether the provincial government will go ahead with the move this time around.
Called in 1989 to assist the police in Karachi by the then PPP-led government amid a deteriorating law and order situation, the Rangers started enjoying more powers in 2009 — again extended by PPP-led governments both in the centre and the province, which allowed the force to search houses and arrest suspects without warrants.
However, the PPP government in Sindh appears aggressive after recent moves by the Rangers in Karachi. CM Qaim Ali Shah has, on numerous occasions, asked the paramilitary force and its director general to not ‘overstep authority.’