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Rangers powers in Sindh to be expired on 5 Feb

26 January, 2016

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KARACHI: As the special policing powers granted to the Rangers two months ago are going to expire on Feb 5, the home department has moved a summary to the chief minister with the proposal to extend the powers for another 60 days in accordance with a Sindh Assembly resolution that allowed the deployment of the paramilitary force in the city for one year, sources said on Monday.

The summary is expected to get the go-ahead from Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah within the next few days, according to the sources.

They said there would be no change in the “current mandate” of the Rangers, which were asked to keep their focus on four heinous crimes while staying away from raiding government offices without prior written approval of the chief secretary and without seeking the chief minister’s nod to place a person, not directly involved in terrorism, under preventive detention.

Under the National Action Plan and the Anti-Terrorism Act, the Rangers have been mandated to conduct targeted operations against elements involved in four heinous crimes — terrorism, targeted killing, kidnapping for ransom and extortion.

A source privy to the recent development said the summary draft “proposes the same mandate for their next extension”.

Last month the Sindh Assembly had passed the resolution ratifying the stay of the paramilitary force in the province for a period of one year. The opposition parties saw it as a move by the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party to curtail the powers of the paramilitary force. The resolution stated that the ratification by the assembly under Article 147 of the Constitution of the Sindh government’s July 16 decision to extend the Rangers deployment for 12 months was subject to fulfilment of four conditions.

The PPP-led provincial government has been accusing the Rangers of overstepping their mandate which restricted them to taking action against offences pertaining to “terrorism, targeted killing, kidnapping for ransom and extortion.”

The resolution, in which the word “terrorism” was replaced with “sectarian killing”, reads: “The Pakistan Rangers (Sindh) will have powers in respect of only targeted killing; extortion/bhatta; kidnapping for ransom and sectarian killing.”

According to another condition set by the resolution, the paramilitary force cannot place any person “who is not directly involved in terrorism and only suspected of aiding and abetting terrorists or by way of terror financing or facilitating terrorists” under preventive detention without the prior approval of the chief minister. Similarly, the Rangers cannot raid any office of the Sindh government and its attached departments without prior written approval of the chief secretary.

“The Sindh government in December 2015 had ratified deployment of the Rangers and their powers under Article 147 of the Constitution from Dec 6 to Feb 5, 2016. The approval from the chief minister this time is expected much earlier than last time, which took weeks to approve the extension of the Rangers powers in Karachi,” said the source.

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