The Sindh government has promised to give more powers to the Rangers, a decision that will increase the crackdown on terrorist strongholds, including rogue seminaries in the province. The Sindh Minister for Local Bodies and Information, after a meeting announcing this increase in control, made it clear that strict action would be taken against any banned outfits, with the ongoing targeted operation in Karachi and implementation on the national action plan, both dependent on the role that Rangers would play in Sindh.

The Karachi operation was initiated by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in September 2013 to rid the metropolitan of criminal elements, irrespective of their political, ethnic or religious affiliation. It is said that since its initiation, the Rangers have arrested over 10,000 suspects, while more than 350 terrorists killed in encounters, 795 operations across Karachi and seizing of over 7,000 illegal arms of different kinds. This proves that they have indeed been far from useless and the situation of Karachi has improved. There is no reason why the Sindh Assembly should not decide to let them stay in the future if progress is being made. What the Rangers could have done was to have sort of public records or internal audit made public to dispel criticism and accusations of their action being politically motivated.

There have always been reservations about the powers of the Rangers. The MQM chief Altaf Hussain has been constantly urging the provincial assembly to pass a bill against their stay in the province, calling their repressive actions as a serious violation of basic human rights, especially against the Muhajirs. He has even gone so far as to compare the Rangers in Karachi to the Indian Army occupying Kashmir. Now there are newly brewing tensions between PML-N led federal government and PPP led Sindh government on the issue of Ranger’s policing role in Karachi. The latter has made it clear that they would not accept infringement on the provincial government’s authority and functions.

With another extension for the stay of Rangers for one month, and more in the future considering national pressure to clean up Karachi, the political parties are just making the situation worse for themselves by being too vocal about the issue. If dominant parties in Sindh don’t have any skeletons in their closets, the Rangers don’t pose a threat to the status quo. Right now, public opinion is the favour of the Rangers and the leaders of the PPP should avoid further public debacles brought on by their compulsive verbosity.