KARACHI - Sindh Assembly once again could not discuss the government resolution pertaining to ratification of extension in Rangers powers due to the protest staged by opposition parties including PML-N, PML-F and PTI.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement, the biggest opposition party in Sindh, refrained from participating in the protest as its leaders in the assembly argued that staging protest gave the PPP-led government an excuse to escape the debate on this key issue.

Despite the passage of ten days, Sindh government has shown no sign for granting extension in Rangers powers in the province though the above said resolution was listed in the agenda for the last three sittings of the assembly.

According to sources privy to the matter, the PPP leadership wanted to negotiate with Centre on the issue of arrest of its members by paramilitary force before granting it extension. “They wanted to use it (delay) as a tool of bargain,” they said. It was due to this intention of the Sindh govt that the MQM, which otherwise is also in favour of restricting Rangers, has issued a statement from London taunting PPP over their ‘double standard’.

The MQM statement stated that PPP owned Rangers operation when action was taken against MQM leaders and activists, asking the ruling party that why it was now trying to restrict Rangers powers when action is being taken against its own corrupt elements.

According to sources, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif contacted Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah Sunday night and discussed the issue with him. The PM invited the CM for a meeting in Islamabad after his three-day visit to China, they said.

The sources observed that the issue of extension would not be resolved until the proposed meeting, which is expected on Thursday.

Addressing a press conference at his office, Senior Minister for Education Nisar Ahmed Khuhro said if anyone wanted to impose governor rule in Sindh then they could do it and the PPP would do the same thing as it did in 1998.

“We will resist it but those who will impose it should know that it was these acts that led to intervention (military coup) in 1999,” he said. He said those who are protesting against delay in extension of Rangers powers should know that no major incident had occurred during the last 10 days and the police had played an important role in maintaining law and order situation. “And it should be remembered that the law and order situation remained bad during military regimes too,” he added.

Khuhro said as per 18th amendment it was necessary for them to ratify Rangers powers within 60 days but due to the protest from opposition parties, the assembly session was adjourned. “We wanted to discuss this issue but a minority of opposition parties failed our attempt and now the matter could not be brought on Tuesday agenda because of private members day,” he held.

The assembly session began one and a half hour late (at 11:30am) yesterday. CM Qaim Ali Shah was also present in the house. The government resolution pertaining to article 147 (which applies to Rangers extension) was on the 11th number on the agenda.

The speaker followed the agenda at a snail’s pace and after two hours when the agenda reached at fourth item, opposition PML-F leader Shaheryar Khan Maher stood from his seat and asked the speaker to allow him to speak on point of order.

The speaker refused to do so, asking him to give some time to complete the agenda which irked the opposition members who then came in front of the speaker’s dais chanting slogans against the Sindh govt “for supporting terrorists”.

Maher asked the govt to extend the Rangers powers immediately but the speaker told him that there was no such thing in the agenda.

The opposition MPAs continued their protest and a verbal war between the speaker and PTI member Khurram Sher Zaman occurred when the latter said that the agenda of the assembly was not important. The speaker lashed out at him and said the agenda was prepared by the members and it was important.

The speaker then adjourned the session for today.