ISLAMABAD - Rangers, the civil armed force, is operating in the capital without proper standing operating procedures (SOPs) while conducting search operations in different areas, The Nation has learnt.

Background discussion with the officials of the Ministry of Interior, the Islamabad Capital Territory Administration (ICTA) and the capital police indicate that all these institutions are completely ignorant about the SOPs being adopted by Rangers for the conduct of search operation in Islamabad Capital territory (ICT).

This dysfunction was revealed yesterday in the wake of Rangers’ targeted raid at the residence of Resident Editor The Nation in Defence Housing Authority (DHA).

The federal government has deployed Rangers in ICT under Section 4 of Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) 1997 through a notification in aid to civil administration. The paramilitary force has been doing search operations mostly in the suburbs of Islamabad under the directions of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. The federal government has extended the deployment of Rangers in Islamabad time and again for a period of 90 days. Even a magistrate level officer of ICT, who wished anonymity, was not aware of any SOPs adopted by the Rangers during raids. When he was asked whether some search warrants are needed to search any house by Rangers, he was unaware but said quickly, "When the duty magistrate is present on the spot, there needs no warrants".

A senior officer of ICT Administration told The Nation that Rangers, ICT Police and intelligence agencies jointly conduct search operation on the basis of intelligence reports. They conduct search operations in the presence of ICT magistrate and DSP or SP level officer. He said that they had general intelligence reports about some areas and then raids are conducted randomly. "Yes, Rangers have been deployed under ATA and it follows the Act while conducting operations," he said. But the officer was unaware about any written SOPs made by the ICT for the conduct of such operations.

No magistrate or SP level officer was present during the raid, the Resident Editor Salman Masood said.  Section 5 of ATA 1997 says, "An officer of the police, armed forces and civil armed forces may...(iii) enter and search, without warrant any premises to make any arrest or to take possession of any property, fire-arm, weapon or article used, or likely to be used, in the commission of any terrorist act or scheduled offence". However, Rangers did not find anything from the premises and left the house after searching everything.

On the other hand, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan taking notice of the incident sought reply from the Rangers and police. A statement issued by the ministry says that these kinds of raids are unacceptable and inappropriate. 

"This should be investigated that why, how and on whose directions, the raid was conducted," he directed the secretary interior. The minister in the past had been claiming during his press conferences that law and order has improved in the capital since Rangers had started combing operations against criminals and terrorists.