LAHORE - Civilian security services had advised the government not to engage the law enforcing agencies for operations in southern Punjab and give the lead to the army and its special units because of their expertise in this area and equipment, top officials of the security agencies told The Nation yesterday.

The defence forces had demanded special powers for Rangers under Section 11-EEEE of ATA to carry out special operations to cleanse South Punjab and other regions of the province of the banned outfits members and other organized crime gangs, added the officials.

However, the provincial government had insisted that it had the capacity and expertise to deal with the threat of terrorism and organized crime gangs. It had at its disposal the Counter Terrorism Department, Elite Force and other wings of law enforcing to carry out the task, they said.

Sources in ministry of interior confirmed the development to the paper when contacted by this paper.

According to Section 11EEEE (1) (preventive detention for inquiry), “the government or, where the provisions of section 4 have been invoked, the armed forces or civil armed forces, as the case may be, subject to the specific or general order of the government in this regard, for period not exceeding three months and after recording reasons thereof, issue order for the preventive detention of any person who has been concerned in any offence under this act relating to the security or defence of Pakistan or any part thereof, or public order relating to target killing, kidnapping for ransom, and extortion / bhatta, or the maintenance of supplies or services, or against whom a reasonable complaint has been made or credible information has been received, or a reasonable suspicion exists of his having been so concerned, for purpose of inquiry”. Section 11EEEE (1) was added to the ATA in October 2013.

The members of the defence forces were of the point of view they would take full responsibility of whatever the results of the operation. At the same time the provincial government should take full “ownership” and “responsibility” of the operation if it has the capacity and expertise to carry out the task.

The defence forces members said that it would not be doable that they catch certain anti-state targets and handover to the civilian authorities for further action. They would carry out the entire task with sending the culprits to jails or gallows following their interrogations, added the security officials.

Following the examples of Karachi operation, the defence services members’ told their civilian counterparts that political compulsions forced the government to go “soft” on certain arrested anti-state elements and they fear the same if they were not in full control of the operation in Punjab.

The provincial authorities finally launched the operation in South Punjab focusing Chotu gang in Rajanpur-Rojhan’s no-go-area bordering with Balochistan with the second-tier support of the Rangers. In the result of faulty planning, lack of expertise and equipment it had to face the serious consequences of killing of its personnel and more in the hands of the gang members as hostages.

The IGP met with Commander Strike II Multan Corps and requested him for rescue in the situation his forces were facing against the notorious Chotu gang. The army engaged one battalion along with SSG’s Zarar Company and Cobra gunship helicopters to assist the civilian authorities.

According to intelligence officials, a platoon of SSG as advance strike team had been launched in the troubled area but action had been halted for sometime to rescue the hostages through negotiations.

The SSG with the cover of gunships will clear the main posts of the criminal gang which will be taken over by the following regular ground forces.

An intelligence service of the military has the information of fortifications of the gang in no-go-area with types of their weapons, fighting members, sniper positions and escape routes. The same intelligence information had also been shared with the civilian security authorities, they added.