Nisar says Karachi ‘operation’ to start in two days

KARACHI: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan announced Wednesday that the paramilitary Rangers force would start a targeted operation against criminal gangs and terrorists in Karachi in the next “one to two days”.

A committee led by the provincial chief minister would “manage, administer and control” the operation, he said, however he emphasised on calling it a targeted action or “exercise” rather than an operation.

The interior minister, flanked by Governor Sindh Dr Ishratul Ibad and Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, was speaking to media representatives following a special session of the federal cabinet in Karachi chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to formulate a strategy to restore peace in the provincial capital.

Earlier during the cabinet session, the prime minister had also stressed on calling it a “concerted campaign” against lawlessness and terrorism in the city rather than an operation.

Sharif expressed concern at the deteriorating law and order situation, although he ruled out a possibility of deploying military troops in the metropolis.

The Sindh police came under intense criticism during the session for the ‘political recruitments’ in its ranks. The prime minister said that the common man had lost faith in the police force.

Announcing the details of the plan, Nisar told reporters that targeted action would be taken against criminals involved in the “four heinous crimes of target-killing, kidnapping, extortion and terrorism”. Rangers would lead the operation while police and the federal and provincial intelligence agencies would support them. He said.

He said the prime minister had held detailed meetings with top government officials and heads of law enforcement authorities, and it was decided at the cabinet meeting that the Rangers force would be given special prosecution powers to aid them in acting against miscreants.

A second committee would be formed comprising of federal minister Zahid Hamid, Farogh Naseem of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, and the prosecutor general to look at the legal aspect. Nisar said the committee would propose legal recommendations for the law of evidence and other provisions to give grant investigation and prosecution powers to the paramilitary force in Karachi. “We have spoken to Rangers officials and have been informed of deficiencies in the system. Measures would soon be taken to fill these gaps,” he said.

Nisar said at least one police station in every district of the city would be assigned as a focal police station where Rangers would be made part of investigations into the ‘four heinous crimes.

A smaller operational committee, headed by DG Rangers Sindh Maj-Gen Rizwan Akhtar and comprising the Inspector General of Sindh Police and representatives of intelligence agencies, would meet almost daily to monitor the operational activities. The interior minister said the first meeting of the committee would be called as soon as he returns to Islamabad.

The interior minister said orders had been issued to revamp the provincial police force which has come under intense criticism for poor performance. “We have ordered and authorised the IGP to revamp the police… and not only identify weaknesses but also elements in its ranks which are in cahoots with terrorists and criminals. These individuals should not only be terminated from duty but also arrested,” he said.

One monitoring committee (outer) to be made. Civil society ke log. “naik naam log jikna siasi party se talluq nahi.” apolitical. will monitor.

An “outer monitoring committee” comprising of members of the civil society and the media will also be formed to monitor the overall operation. “Members of this committee will be honest members of the civil society and notable representatives of the media who will identify if any wrongful arrests are made,” said Nisar.

The interior minister also pointed out the existence of 4 million unregistered mobile phone SIMs which he said aided terrorists and criminals in carrying out their activities. He said cellular companies would be forced to follow clear cut guidelines to ensure the sale of SIMs without proper registration.