Power for Rangers remains undecided as Sindh government seems to have serious reservations

Salahuddin Haider

THE Sindh government which had announced to solve the issue of restoring powers to Rangers to operate in Karachi and Sindh, vested with police powers of arrests and search operations without warrants, remained undecided although advisor information Maula Bux Chandio had promised decision on the burning issue by till Tuesday evening.
Expectations that Powers enjoyed by the Para-military force in Karachi to carry out its operations against anti-social and criminal elements in Karachi, would be restored after the cabinet meeting of Monday, but Chandio told newsmen later that all other issues had been deferred for future meetings, because of the detailed discussion on Census, which was crucial issue for the province.
However he had also said later that the issue of powers to Rangers will be solve by Tuesday. That promise remained unfulfilled even after expiry of the deadline given by the Sindh government functionary.
Experts recalled that Sindh government was in a dilemma whether to allow Rangers to remain in the province, and allow them to operate with power to arrest and search premises , houses etc, without warrants.
It is a dilemma that will take serious thinking because PPP government in Sindh had clear reservations with the way Rangers were operating in the province, the operation against Anwar Majeed’s house and business offices being the most important.
Anwar Majeed is not only a close friend of PPP President and former President Asif Zardari, but is also his business partners. The fact that his sugar mill was raided in Badin and later his house too was raided in Karachi on the very day when Zardari was reaching Karachi after six months exile, is a factor that can not be dismissed lightly.
Rangers in the opinion of many had done a good job of eliminating target killing, terrorism, extortion, and restoring peace and security for citizens of Karachi. It is a fact that can never be denied even the worst of skeptics.
However some objections were raised by MQM Pakistan and MQM London, even by the ruling PPP itself, will have also to be kept in mind. They all had reservations about the way the Rangers had begun to act, and in the eyes of some, had openly violated their mandate.
It remains to be seen as to how the establishment will take it. Even at the federal level, the army had praised the functioning of the military courts, but that also has become an issue now.
The interior ministry called a meeting in Islamabad Tuesday, but political parties attending the conference, remained evasive. The meeting has now been put off till January 31. The fact that such lengthy period has been allowed for a decision on an important issue, does mean something.
Peoples Party had been directed by its President Asif Zardari to oppose the renewal of military courts whose mandate expired on 7th January. The government will have to amend the Constitution for which 24th amendment had also been readied, but a solution is still not in sight.
Similar sentiments seem to pervade in Sindh where the ruling Peoples Party and the second biggest party of the province, are not feeling too happy with the Rangers style of working. A wait and see approach alone will have to be resorted to now.