And who’s next?
With the Rangers in action in Sindh, there is a lot of hue and cry in Karachi as political parties claim to be victims of unjust vendettas.
To begin with, the rangers were deployed in Karachi by former PM Benazir Bhutto in 1989, after the murder of three students of People’s Student Federation at the Karachi University, which happened due to a conflict with All Pakistan Muhajir Student Organisation (APMSO).
As Nawaz Sharif came into power in 1990 after dismissing the BB govt, the army was requisitioned under Article 245 but had the same limited powers under Article 147. The 1992 army operations saw the top MQM leader fleeing the country.
So when BB came back into power in 1994, the Rangers were asked to stay as the army was removed and the police were given all the powers to maintain law and other.
Again when Nawaz came into power in 1997 the Rangers powers weren’t increased but were asked to stay.
It wasn’t until 2009, that their powers were increased in the Asif Ali Zardari rule. They could raid, search and arrest but under police supervision. None of the political parties ever demanded its removal nor were they ever used to their full potential.
“For the past 26 years, Karachi has been suffering. Rangers were called without adequate powers as a backup of the police. Karachi has worsened, as the parties weren’t giving the Rangers the due powers. Rangers weren’t used to their potential this involves MQM, PPP and Gen Musharraf’s era” Lt Gen (Retd) Ghulam Mustafa, who is a Defence Analyst, toldDNA.
Yet crime in Karachi couldn’t be diminished. As matters worsened it seemed Karachi was doomed for good.
It wasn’t until 2009, that their powers were increased in the Asif Ali Zardari rule. They could raid, search and arrest but under police supervision
“Karachi could have stabilised long back, but due to vested interests of political parties, it could not be. UAE flourished as Karachi’s condition worsened, join the dots here.” Lt Gen (R) Ghulam Mustafa emphasised.
It was not until 2013 that Operation Zarb-e-Azb was initiated and for the first time Rangers got preventive and detention powers with the civil and military leadership’s approval.
After the APS massacre in Peshawar in December 2014, the National Action Plan (NAP) was approved and Protection of Pakistan Ordinance (PPO) which gave Rangers the right to remand any suspect for 90 days.
So the powers have been increased which the approval of the leaders of Sindh, from Article 147 to Anti-Terrorism Act in 2013. But as the Rangers are rightfully attending to their duties the tornado of controversies rose and finally the Supreme Court of Pakistan had to intervene and declare them right.
It does come under the Constitution, principally after the 18th Amendment, to extend the powers of Rangers sanctioned by the provincial assembly after every four months. But the Sindh government failed to fulfil many of its constitutional duties, namely to secure its cities, yet when it came to keeping a check on the Rangers, they promptly took action with regards to setting limits to their duties and passing the latest resolution.
“The resolution is shameful, if they could do something, they should have done already. Now that the Rangers have caught the criminals they have a problem with it”, Lt Gen (R) Ghulam Mustafa told DNA.
Even the major political parties of Sindh at risk are in favour of Rangers staying and doing their job.
“Sindh government wants Rangers to stay and complete their duty, hence we have extended their time and we really want terrorism and extortions to be eliminated at once,” Manzoor Wattoo, PPPP Punjab President told DNA.
Amin-ul-Haq, Member of MQM Rabita Committee told DNA, “MQM was the first political party which agreed and welcomed the Rangers into Karachi. And has been in favour of Karachi operation ever since.”
So why do they all cry victim, are they being really targeted?
“Rangers have a bigger national duty and we don’t want them to become controversial by making them do small tasks. They can’t go around and handle thieves as they have better jobs to do, such as eliminate terrorism,” Manzoor Wattoo said.
MQM claimed that irrespective of race religion and political affliction whoever is involved in terrorism or corruption should be dealt with as per law, but the whole thing has turned for the worse for MQM.
But Lt Gen (R) Ghulam Mustafa is of the view as are the Rangers that corruption and terrorism are indeed linked and need to be dealt with hand in hand
Amin-ul-Haq, claims that “MQM’s members were arrested, there were forced disappearances, the offices were raided and extra-judicial remands were given. Our election campaigns were stopped, their nominees were arrested too, has this happened to any other parties?”
PPPP is in danger as a party, as very big names are involved in corruption in the party.
“PPPP is just now making excuses that handling corruption isn’t the Ranger’s job. MQM was warned before hand, as PPP was the first to be snubbed,” says Lt Gen (R) Ghulam Mustafa.
Major corruption cases have come into light due to Ranger Operations so isn’t this accountability?
So one may think that the Rangers are fulfilling their duties but where does NAB stand for then? It is the duty of NAB to bring to justice corrupt leaders. If corruption is found by the Rangers, they should direct the due inquiries to NAB which would conduct its tasks respectfully.
“Even if anyone is involved in economic terrorism they should be arrested. But when PPPP is arrested it’s a VIP arrest and when MQM is arrested they blindfold us, like Amir Khan, Umar Mansoor and others,” asserts Amin-ul-Haq.
But Lt Gen (R) Ghulam Mustafa is of the view as are the Rangers that corruption and terrorism are indeed linked and need to be dealt with hand in hand.
“Political parties are now afraid of the Rangers, even PML-N, because they know once Sindh has cleansed it’s their turn,” Lt Gen (R) Ghulam Mustafa emphasised.