The security lapse in Sindh, especially in the city of Karachi, is a well-known fact. Over the years, extremists have made living in the area extremely difficult and every other day, there are stories of terrorist activities. To counter the growing threat of the extremists and to cover up for the inefficiencies of the civil criminal system, special powers were allotted to the Rangers to rid the area of security threats. These special powers were granted to them under Article 147 of the constitution. While initially the provincial government saw this as a direct challenge to their authority in the province, they could not overlook the fact that the civilian set up was miserably failing to control the situation.

However, the problem arises when such measures receive innumerable extensions and the reliance on specifically their efforts increases. Over the past year and a half, the special powers of the Rangers have been extended again and again. The last extension was supposed to end on 14 July, but the Sindh government has approved another extension, which will last till 12 October.

While everyone appreciates the efforts of the Rangers and wants Sindh to be a safer province, the fact that civilian authorities fail to take charge of the situation is highly disappointing. How long will the military cover up for civilian inefficiencies? There are claims that the police force has become active and is actively taking part in counter terrorism measures, but a report by the Counter Terrorism Department has revealed how militants influence the attitude and environment within prisons. If such is the case, the police force has clearly not taken charge and is still afraid to take any action.

Another important concern is the question regarding the eventual end of this prolonged exercise. When will the government and the military feel that the rangers have done enough to control the situation and should step back, and give up their special powers? Depending on the Rangers cannot be a long term solution in this case. An end result with tangible markers is imperative, as is a well thought out policy framework to decide the end of term for these powers.

If this is not done, then this will be just another case of civilian sluggishness, and the armed forces trying to make up for it. The armed forces cannot look to quell every fire raging in the country. While security comes within their purview, there must be civilian ownership of the responsibility to protect citizens from internal threats.