LAHORE -  Pakistan Rangers will become operational in the Punjab within three days to launch a forceful crackdown on terrorists and their facilitators.

The next apex committee meeting will decide on the modalities of operations, areas and duration of the Rangers’ stay in the Punjab in line with the working carried out by the home department. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has also been informed of the Punjab government’s decision.

Spokesman for the Punjab government, Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan, and Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan have confirmed that a summary has been prepared by the home department containing a request to the interior ministry for Rangers’ deployment to act against the criminal elements, their handlers and facilitators in the province. Malik Ahmad said after approval by the chief minister, the summary would be forwarded to the ministry, adding the operation of Rangers would begin soon after issuance of a notification for their action.

Malik Ahmad said the Rangers along with Counter-Terrorism Department and the police would launch intelligence-based operations in the province. He said initially the Rangers would operate in the Punjab for 60 days while the duration could be extended if need arose to deal with the menace. He said every matter relating to the Rangers’ action would be decided after consultation between the military and the civil leadership.

Malik Ahmad said the Rangers would be in the field in the Punjab within two or three days.

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan said the Rangers would act in an effective manner to curb miscreants and check their activities. The Apex Committee would decide where the Rangers would operate. The law minister hoped the Rangers would have more powers to operate in the Punjab than they had in Karachi.

The decision to call in Rangers in the Punjab was taken at the Apex Committee meeting held with Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif in the chair on Sunday.

The necessity to give Rangers a leading role to deal with terrorists, extremists and facilitators was highlighted after The Charing Cross suicide attack on February 13, which took lives of 15 people, including two top-ranking police officers.

The Rangers have been associated with netting and killing terrorists in the Punjab in intelligence-based operations. But it was only when their need was felt and they joined the CTD and the police. Unlike the past, it is believed this time the Rangers will be given a leading role to operate against miscreants while the others institutions will join the force. Since the terror incident at Army Public School, Peshawar, on December 16, 2014, security operatives in the Punjab conducted many operations, killing and arresting a large number of terrorists. However, there was a demand from the political side to deploy the Rangers in the Punjab on the pattern of Karachi where they have been operating for the last two years through a legislation process carried out by the Sindh Assembly.

SAJID ZIA