The political landscape of Pakistan has taken yet another interesting turn. While former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s accountability trial is on-going, Rangers barred the Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal along with other PML-N leaders, media persons, and several PML-N supporters from entering into the court. The security arrangements for the court were already outlined and a list was provided for the people who could enter court, all under the supervision of the Interior Ministry, but Rangers suddenly took over the control on Monday morning.

A severe, and immediate, backlash to this development was witnessed on the mainstream and social media. This incident raises a lot of questions. The first is under whose authority did Rangers take this action? They were implying that they had gotten orders to take this position and ensure the security of the court; but the answer was certainly not the government.

While one can understand the sensitivity of the situation, and security of the court is very important. However, Rangers do not have the right to exercise such authority; they have no right to make such calls unilaterally. Rangers are subservient to the authority of the Interior Ministry. If the Interior Ministry, headed by Ahsan Iqbal, cannot determine who is in command of the Rangers, then the role of the paramilitary force in the government becomes very concerning. Ahsan Iqbal’s decision to question this move is very right. He has every right to demand answers as the head of the ministry. Who is the authority that the Rangers are ultimately answerable too?

Is it the armed forces, the court or some other authority? This highlights the uncertainty in the loyalty of the Rangers and chain of command. And this is a repetition of the same question that keeps resurfacing; especially during the deployment of the force in Karachi. This puts a huge question mark on the sovereignty of the state and their authority over its bodies. The Rangers cannot be a rouge institution which can shift loyalty at will.

There cannot be a state within a state; there can be no higher authority than the state and its government as well. An investigation must be launched to look into the matter. This action is a huge disrespect to the institution of democracy and puts a question mark over the Rangers too – and otherwise respected and accomplished institution. They must clear the air.