WEB DESK: Under Article 147 of the Constitution, the Sindh Assembly could refuse to ratify extended deployment of the Rangers in Karachi, but it hasn’t. However, the resolution it adopted supporting the ratification – without debate and amid deafening ruckus – is too watered down to help sustain the prevailing ambience of peace and tranquillity in the mega city. It virtually defangs the Rangers operation and proposes hands-off a variety of crime mafias and their political patrons.
Should the four restrictions to the Rangers’ mandate recommended by the resolution come into effect in letter and spirit, the residents of Karachi would be returning to the hell they lived in when crime mafias ruled the roost, and that too, without question under political patronage. And then, there is a clear hollow ring to this so-called democratic exercise. If the resolution was unambiguously geared at sustaining and strengthening peace in Karachi the MQM, which enjoys enormous trust of its residents as reflected from the outcome of recently held local government polls, would not have so vigorously protested and boycotted its adoption.
Why the PPP-led Sindh government was hell-bent on recommending critical caveats to the resolution is amply evident from the nature of exceptions spelt out in the ratified mandate. That the Rangers’ operation be confined to targeted-killing, extortion, kidnapping for ransom and sectarian killing and it should not touch any person “who is not directly involved in terrorism and is only suspected of aiding and abetting terrorists” is nothing but a concession to the China-cutting land-grabbers that the “Rangers cannot raid any office of the Sindh government and its attached departments without prior permission of the chief secretary”. The Sindh government would also like to put the FIA and NAB out of action, by recommending that the Rangers “shall not assist any institution apart from Sindh Police”.
It is a huge comedown, and a sure prescription to return to the pre-Rangers operation days of Karachi. No wonder then the MQM, which has emerged as nearly sole representative of Karachi residents, the elected political opposition across-the-board and the mega city’s business class have rejected this controversial resolution of the Sindh Assembly.
Prima facie, there is no reason that the Sindh government would withdraw this resolution. If it can be rejected by the federal government one is not sure given that the experts’ opinion on this is divided. While some say the provincial assembly cannot restrict the Rangers operation, as it is very much in line with the Anti-Terrorist Act 1997 and the National Action Plan, both being federal laws and therefore beyond Sindh Assembly’s jurisdiction while others assert that Sindh Assembly is duly empowered under the proviso added to Article 147 by the 18th Amendment.
If a resolution adopted by an elected house is anything more than an expression of opinion and declaration of intention to do something, that too is a matter of debate. One may ask what message the Sindh Assembly was trying to send out by deciding to adopt a resolution, without debate and with opposition out of sync, to restrict Rangers operation in Karachi on the very day the entire nation was in mourning on the first anniversary of the Peshawar Army Public School’s massacre. Here is an issue of supreme national interest that cannot be relegated to untenable political whims and wishes, just because a certain set-up is uncomfortable with Rangers reaching its top leadership.
This being the grim backdrop, we believe it would be in the fitness of things that the Prime Minister should call an all-party conference to find a way out of this imbroglio. The Rangers operation in Karachi is a follow-up of the National Action Plan, which was unanimously adopted by all political parties, including the PPP. For the last two weeks, the city of teeming millions is without a special security cover and there is every possibility that terrorists and criminals are regrouping. The provincial assembly resolution has come too late and then in its truncated form. If on earlier occasions the chief minister could ratify extension for Rangers operation why did he go to the provincial assembly now?
Source: Business Recorder