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Posts Tagged Nawaz Haram Khoor Sharif

Robbers Versus Rangers
















Robbers Versus Rangers



Irfan Hussain


THE recent exchange of artillery salvos between Islamabad and Karachi over the Rangers’ operation in Sindh exposes the tension between the federal and provincial governments.

As the PPP government in Sindh continued to drag its feet over renewing its approval of the operation, Chaudhry Nisar, the abrasive interior minister, upped the ante by hinting at governor’s rule in the province. While clearly a setback for democracy, such an extreme step would not be unwelcome among large segments of the population.

When the MQM was the focus of attention from the Rangers with its headquarters being raided, its senior members being arrested, and its activists — many of them alleged killers — being hounded, the PPP was a silent witness. But when its own Aman Committee thugs were targeted, and its bagmen locked up, there were loud squeals of anguish.





Insisting that investigation of corruption by provincial bigwigs was outside the remit granted the Rangers, the PPP cited constitutional provisions about the rights of the provinces. Clearly, the party feels that its leaders should be allowed to suck the province dry without let or hindrance from the centre.

The irony here is that some of those in Islamabad pressing for tough action against violence and corruption in Sindh have apparently not been above helping themselves to the national exchequer. And for months, the PML-N leadership delayed action against the Taliban. Even today, some of its members are on the same wavelength as the jihadis.

But while this may be a case of the pot calling the kettle black, any improvement in security in Sindh — and especially in Karachi — is to be welcomed. Although the leadership of both the MQM and the PPP have reason to oppose the intrusion of the federal government in their fiefdoms, most people have welcomed it. Demonstrations in favour of the operation being conducted by the Rangers across the province are testimony to its popularity. Even though there are rumours that some of these protests were instigated by the Rangers, everybody I have talked to in Karachi and in rural Sindh supports the operation.

The truth is that things had got so bad in the province that millions were desperate for protection, no matter where it came from. A battalion of horned demons would be applauded if they could make Karachi’s mean streets safe again. The Rangers, not subject to the same political interference that had hobbled the police, have smashed several criminal syndicates that enjoyed protection from party leaders who shared in the spoils.

There have been several reported incidents where the Rangers have misused their powers. But by and large, their crackdown has been effective and focused. Probably the most controversial step they have taken is the arrest and detention of Dr Asim Hussain, allegedly Asif Zardari’s frontman and close buddy.

After the 90-day remand period, he was handed over to the police who have recommended his release as, according to them, there is no proof linking him to any terrorist activity. The Rangers are moving the Sindh High Court to block his discharge as they claim the police have destroyed the relevant evidence.

This extraordinary case between two state agencies again underlines the friction between the federal and provincial governments. Obviously, the police reports to the provincial administration that has every interest in getting Dr Hussain freed. The Rangers, on the other hand, want him tried for allegedly giving terrorists sanctuary in his hospital.

This newspaper has argued in a recent editorial that the Sindh government has every right to seek the assembly’s approval for an extension. Of course it does. But such an exercise in democratic procedure should not have been allowed to turn into the farce that it became. Now, with a diluted approval, it remains to be seen how effective the Rangers will be, and how much acrimony it will generate between the centre and the provincial government.

The reality is that the provincial assembly is seldom used to discuss and debate the abysmal state of law and order, health, education and the infrastructure. Both the PPP and the MQM use the assembly to squabble over irrelevant issues. Issues vital to Sindh’s beleaguered population are seldom aired, let alone resolved.

An online survey conducted by this newspaper found that 84pc of the 4,000 or so respondents polled support the operation. Being online, it is not really representative of Pakistan. But the handful of politicians opposing it benefit from the lawlessness they preside over, and resent any interference in their misrule and corruption.

If anything, the recent local bodies elections showed how the PPP used its muscle to bully the opposition into abandoning the field. The unopposed victory of many of its candidates is testimony not of its popularity, but its undemocratic practices. For this party now to claim the democratic high ground to oppose the Rangers is pure hypocrisy.


Published in Dawn, December 19th, 2015

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