ISLAMABAD - Tension between PML-N led federal government and PPP-led Sindh government is brewing up on the issue of Rangers’ policing role in port city of Karachi as the latter has made it clear that they would not accept infringement on provincial government’s authority and functions.

Interaction with the leaders of both Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan People’s Party as well as other players in Sindh brought to fore that PPP was determined not to let Rangers exceed the powers they were given for maintenance of law and order in the restive city.

A couple of days back, on expiry of the notification, the Sindh government extended the stay of Rangers for a period of one month against the usual extension granted to it under Anti-Terrorist Act 1997 clause (i) of sub-section (3) of Section 4 for four months period, taking the plea that it would take the matter to the Sindh Assembly to get its formal approval.

PML-N sources said that it was just to push the Rangers on back foot and to slow down the pace of the operation they have launched against the militants and their supporters and collaborators in the province, particularly the alleged political backing of they were enjoying.

Federal interior minister on Thursday said that they were prepared to pullout Rangers from Karachi but at eleventh hour Sinch chief minister intimated him that provincial government was issuing notification for extension.

So, just hours before the expiry of the previous notification a fresh notification of one month extension came from Sindh Home Department, restricting Rangers’s operations for maintenance of law and order to Karachi alone. By not extending the stay of Rangers for four months Qaim Ali Shah played a smart move and put the paramilitary force on back foot, obviously forcing it to restrict its aggressive operation in the port city.

PPP sources informed The Nation that the party leadership was determined to restrict Rangers to their defined role and they would not be allowed to infringe upon the powers of Sindh government, the point CM Qaim Shah had also taken up with Rangers through a letter addressed to its Sindh director general.

The chief minister said Rangers were mandated to take action against people involved in target killings, kidnapping for ransom and other disruptive activities but they could not be permitted to shift their focus to financial crimes and other corrupt practices of officials of various government departments, which is purely the domain of provincial departments.

The decision of PPP government to take the matter of Rangers’ overstepping their mandate to provincial assembly was just to browbeat the federal government to restrict the Rangers to maintenance of law and order and avoid indulging in cases relating to financial corruption.

Sources in the PPP said that central leadership of the party was of the strong view that they would not let Rangers indulge in the political matters of the Sindh government and a tacit message to the federal government was given in this connection.

Sources further said that PPP led provincial government was acting from the position of strength as they knew it well that in the given situation it would not be possible for the federal government to impose governor rule in the province because PML-N was not in a position to get the decision of clamping governor rule passed from both the houses of the parliament ‘separately’ within 10 days time.

On the other hand Muttahida Qoumi Movement leadership was perturbed over the restriction of Rangers operation to port city of Karachi and termed it an exercise of political victimisation of their party leaders and activists in the city. MQM central leader Farooq Sattar said that the biasness of the Sindh government could be judged well from the fact that they had clearly mentioned in the one month extension stay of Rangers’ that it would only be for the port city of Karachi while in rest of Sindh province Rangers could not operate.

He reiterated his demand of forming an apex committee comprising the superior judiciary to monitor the functioning of Rangers in Karachi so that no particular party or group could be targeted in future.

The relations between the ruling PML-N and PPP witnessed a strong blow when Premier Nawaz Sharif had refused to meet PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari, a day after he came up with hostile and provocative statement against top military hierarchy, and now the current developments on Rangers’ stay in port city would further push the mainstream political parties on road to confrontation.