PM Arrives in Karachi to Discuss Rangers Power Extension
KARACHI: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif arrived in Karachi on Monday morning to attend a high-level meeting on the law and order situation in Sindh with Rangers power extension on the agenda.
After his arrival in Karachi, the premier went to a Pakistan Air Force firepower demonstration at the Soniami range.
The Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar had earlier announced that he and Nawaz would be in attendance at the meeting, which will also 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.
The purpose of Nawaz's visit will be to sort out the issue of the Rangers' deployment in Karachi, the term of which expired Sunday.
According to earlier reports, it appears that there are differences between the federal and Sindh governments over extending the paramilitary forces' mandate.
On Sunday, Nisar expressed regret 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 had 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.
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.
MQM leader Farooq Sattar earlier 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.
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.
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