KARACHI - The much-awaited special meeting of the federal cabinet came up with launching a Rangers-led targeted operation against the criminals in Karachi within a couple of days while police will assist the federal force.
The meeting chaired by Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif at the Governor House also decided giving the paramilitary Rangers special powers of prosecution and investigation for the purpose.
It also gave timeframe to Sindh IGP to revamp police force by identify the officers patronising the criminals and arrest them, besides removing them from their posts.
The meeting, attended by Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad, federal ministers and heads of law enforcement agencies, formed a committee headed by the CM that will supervise and manage the overall operation and ensure implementation of federal cabinet’s decisions.
PM Nawaz Sharif while addressing the meeting underlined the need to adopt an effective strategy for maintenance of peace in Karachi. He said there prevailed a general impression that the police has failed to control the crimes, as in the past the recruitment to police had been made on political grounds. He said that officers of some other departments were posted in police on higher positions.
Regarding MQM’s demand for an army operation, the prime minister said that the idea of handing over Karachi to the army was premature. He said that appropriate action was not being taken against the criminal elements, as those involved in crimes succeed in obtaining an early release.
Before the cabinet meeting, the PM also chaired a high level meeting on law and order at the Governor House. It was attended by ISI DG Lt-Gen Zaheerul Islam, Rangers DG Maj-Gen Rizwan Akhtar, Federal Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan, Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Water and Power Minister Kh Asif and head of Citizens-Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) Ahmed Chinoy.
After the cabinet meeting, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan unveiled to the media the details of the plan, insisting that it should be called a ‘targeted action’ or ‘exercise’ rather than an operation. He said the decision has been taken after consultative meetings with the political parties, civil society, media persons and business community.
Flanked by Sindh CM and governor at the Governor House press briefing, Nisar said that the federal and provincial intelligence agencies will identify the criminals and areas to the Rangers for the targeted actions to eliminate the four heinous crimes – targeted killings, extortionists, kidnapping for ransom and terrorism. He said in all four committee have been formed to supervise and execute the overall plan of restoring peace in the commercial hub of the country.
The CM-led committee, including representatives of federal interior ministry, intelligence agencies, Rangers, Nadra and Nara, will meet once every week. Another committee, to be led by the DG Rangers and having IGP Sindh and representatives of security agencies, will meet daily to execute the actions against the criminals.
A third committee – led by Federal Minister Zahid Hamid and comprising Sindh Prosecutor General, MQM’s nominee Senator Farukh Naseem and representatives of Rangers, Sindh Police and federal intelligence agencies –will identify the flaws in the law of evidence and make recommendations to give legal way to the Rangers for the lead role of the targeted operation and investigation process.
The fourth committee comprising civil society members, media persons, retired bureaucrats and other prominent citizens will monitor the exercise to ensure that innocent persons are not affected. The minister said that some decisions of the cabinet have been kept secret due to their nature of sensitivity, while all such steps will be visible through targeted actions against the criminals.
Ch Nisar said that government accepts the mandate of the ruling PPP and MQM and other parties, so it wants to go with consensus. He added that Qaim Ali Shah is an elected chief minister and constitutionally he is the chief executive of the province, so “we all should accept his authority in decisions about the province”.
The minister said that Rangers had expressed their concerns that criminals manage to get free when they are arrest and handed over to the police. He said their concerns have been addressed by granting them powers to arrest as well as prosecute and investigate the criminals. He asserted that provincial autonomy was not affected with these powers to the rangers, adding that all the federal intelligence agencies will work under the Sindh government to maintain the law and order in the port city.
Nisar said that government is implementing the verdict of the Supreme Court in law and order case of Karachi, adding that apex court will be approached regarding legal complications for some powers for the rangers. He said the government will also take action and dismantle the ‘militant wings’ of political parties in the Karachi as per the apex court verdict.
The minister said that one police station in each district of the Karachi will be declared as focal station, where rangers, police and other security agencies will interrogate the criminals. Declaring unregistered SIMs of the cell phones as base for crimes in the city, the interior minister said that currently at least 4 million unregistered SIMs were active in the city and the cellular companies have been directed to immediately deactivate all these SIMs.
Ch Nisar said that all political parties are unanimous on one point – action against the criminal in Karachi to maintain the law and order situation. He said that government will hold a meeting of the political parties to consult them on engagement with Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). He said that many of the actions of the TTP too were fallout of Karachi’s law and order situation. The minister criticised the media for airing disinformation about transfer of IGP Sindh and Chief Secretary.
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah and Governor Ishratul Ebad thanked the prime minister and federal government for the urgent attention to Karachi’s peace. The CM said that all decision were taken unanimously in the cabinet meeting. He said that despite their differences, all the political parties were unanimous to bring peace in Karachi.
The CM said there was also a consensus among the political parties that police and rangers can put the things right and there was no need of calling in the army. Like Nisar, he said the provincial autonomy has not been affected by special powers to the Rangers as the decisions can be altered anytime depending on their results. Qaim claimed his party neither has any militant wing nor it has any connection with any militant group.
A federal cabinet member was reported by a private TV website as saying that the plan aims at eliminating criminal elements from Karachi within six months. “The operation will be conducted on a now-or-never basis.” As for the military’s role, he said that it will operate as a quick response force to help paramilitary forces and police wherever needed. Prime Minister Nawaz will take all political parties into confidence by the end of this week, he said.
A senior official of the interior ministry said that according to the proposed plan prepared by Sindh home department, the operation will most probably be launched in Lyari Town and Sohrab Goth and then expanded to Manghopir, Orangi Town, Korangi, Manghopir, Landhi, Ranchore Lines and Ittehad Town. The Rangers and police will be given special powers to conduct search operations in any house, mosque or madrasa, he added.
In a report sent to the PM earlier this week, the National Crisis Management Cell highly recommended the federal government to launch an operation in Karachi. It revealed that several TTP factions and al-Qaeda elements have moved in and they were penetrating deeper into the city. The militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is responsible for much of the violence in the city and it needs to be rooted out, stated the report.