KARACHI -  Rangers personnel deployed in all areas of the Sindh capital, including sensitive areas across the province, were called back to the headquarters after expiry on April 14 of the special policing powers given to the paramilitary force by the Sindh government.

The paramilitary force discontinued routine patrol, snap checking and raids on Friday. However, the Rangers continued to provide security to the governor, chief minister, judges, airports and sensitive installations.

Presiding over a Sindh cabinet meeting at Bilawal House in Karachi on Saturday, Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had discussed extension in special powers of the Sindh Rangers among other matters.

Under the National Action Plan and the Anti-Terrorism Act, the federal cabinet had granted special powers to the Rangers to carry out a targeted operation with the support of the police against criminals involved in targeted killings, kidnappings for ransom, extortion and terrorism in Karachi. The operation was launched in September 2013 in Karachi.

People fear that withdrawal of special powers from the Rangers in Sindh will affect peace and security in the city. Various circles in the province have demanded extension in special powers of the Rangers.

Sindh Rangers’ special powers came to an end on Friday night as the Sindh government had not notified extension in paramilitary force’s special powers.

Sindh Rangers’ special powers were extended for 90 days on January 19.

The paramilitary force has been working with special powers in the provincial capital since launch of the Karachi operation more than three-and-a-half years ago. From Saturday, the force did not have special powers, as the provincial government had not approved the summary to extend these powers.

The Rangers were given special powers to carry out operations in the province under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997. “A summary seeking 90-day extension in Rangers’ special powers was forwarded to the Sindh government by the provincial home department on April 5, the Sindh government has not taken any action on the summary so far,” sources in the provincial government said. “If approved by Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, the summary will be sent to the federal government and Rangers’ policing powers will be extended till July 13,” the sources said.

Earlier, the provincial government had extended Rangers’ special powers in Karachi for 90 days.

The Rangers were given special powers when the federal government decided to launch a counterterrorism operation in Karachi on September 5, 2013.

A spokesperson for Chief Minister’s House said in a statement that Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah had received the summary for extension in Rangers’ special powers and he would look into the matter according to the law.