ISLAMABAD/Karachi - Two gladiators – one each from federal and Sindh governments – yesterday showed up in the public arena, one after the other, with both of them challenging other’s brigade and warning of the consequence of an all-out clash.

The bone of contention is Rangers-led operation in Karachi metropolitan, more precisely its scope. The federal government wants the paramilitary force push deep into even in those areas where ruling party of the province probably feels deeply uncomfortable.

Taking the lead, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan alleged that PPP-led Sindh government of trying to “detrack the Karachi operation to save just one man (Dr Asim Hussain, who is said to be a close aide of PPP chief Asif Ali Zardari).”

Addressing a press conference at the Punjab House, he indirectly even hinted that the centre was mulling proposal to impose governor’s rule in Sindh to continue with the Rangers’ led operation in the province.

The (Pakistan People’s Party-led) Sindh government should come out of the illusion that it can send Rangers back into the barracks; ‘this process cannot be reversed’, he warned.

The warning of the minister came a day before the Sindh Assembly adjourned its sitting without deciding about extension in Rangers’ stay in Karachi.

Advisor to Chief Minster Sindh on Information Maula Bux Chandio responded to Nisar by saying that he (interior minister) had no respect for the assemblies as he was among those who tore the constitutional book pieces. Warning Nisar against hurling threats on them (PPP and Sindh government) he dared him move on with his options.

Chandio said that the ratification of the extension in Rangers powers was a constitutional need and the issue would be resolved by Monday. He said the Rangers operation would continue but they would be made to remain in their mandated limits.

Earlier, Nisar in his press conference said the central government had four to five options to continue ‘with the journey for peace in Karachi while remaining within constitutional, legal and democratic framework’. “We will not want that Karachi would again come in the grip of fear,” he said.

“I will present some alternate proposals to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on his return from a foreign visit on Monday, “ he said and hoped that the issue would be resolved amicably.

The minister alleged that Sindh government was not extending powers of Rangers and hampering the operation against terrorists just to save ‘one man’.

“I am in a shock how far a party or a government can go for one person,” he said without naming former PPP senator and federal minister Dr Asim Hussain, who is facing corruption and terrorism charges. He said that he did not know how important the person was and what was his relationship with them (PPP leadership).

Nisar said the federal government had been asking the provincial government for extension in Rangers’ term, but there was dilly-delaying tactics from it for some two weeks. “I personally talked to the Sindh chief minister and asked him to convey his request for not taking the matter to the provincial assembly to PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari.” Nisar pointed out that the matter had not been taken to the assembly in the past.

He said PPP was continuously making negative statements against the federal government, interior ministry and the Rangers. The Rangers, he said, had rendered sacrifices for peace in Karachi and criticism on it was unacceptable.

Nisar said he had exercised restraint over two and half years over the statements against him, his ministry and the government, but if it continued from PPP, he would make public many things which were on record, including a video of Dr Asim Hussain and report of joint investigation team (JIT) on Dr Asim Hussain case.

Making it clear that the government will not allow any attempts to undermine the ongoing operation that had been launched with consensus in 2013, he said that the denying extension in Rangers’ stay was tantamount to encourage terrorists and extremists.

Sindh adviser Chandio in his media talk said, “We did not make up this issue for a single person and the PPP had not created any hurdle in the operation and always supported the law enforcing authorities.” He said that the provincial government supports Rangers but only want the institutions to remain within their domain, which was not a crime as the chief minister is the chief executive of the province.

“Elimination of corruption was mandate of NAB and anti-corruption department not that of Rangers,” he said. “We have the majority in the house and we will extend Rangers powers and continue the operation with the same pace,” he promised. He added that no one in the PPP was opposed to Karachi operation despite that they had to face criticism from within the party for operation in its stronghold- Lyari.

“He (Nisar) should bring the video evidences and use his options,” Chandio said, adding that the interior minister should not sacrifice the Karachi operation and Rangers role for his personal and party interests. He warned if any action was taken against the province, the buck would not stop here and things would move further forward.

The CM’s adviser said that it was the not the provincial government but Chaudhry Nisar who is creating a controversy about Rangers. “We brought them, empowered them to improve the law and order situation in the province especially in Karachi,’ he said adding that Karachi operation would continue till elimination of last terrorist.

“Whether it is human rights violation, encounters in police stations, burning of minority worship places and people and lack of temperament to listen to the journalist fraternity, we knew everything happening in your (PML-N) governance,” he said, adding that Nisar had the right to talk but should speak truth.

Chandio also said that there are certain people who wanted to take advantage of the situation and want the democratic process to be derailed but they should remember that PPP had given sacrifices for this system and situation would once again return to normal with the passage of time.