ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah yesterday failed to make any breakthrough on the Rangers’ powers issue but agreed to keep the negotiations’ ball rolling.

On PM’s directive, Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali would visit Karachi next week to have another round of talks on the issue with all stakeholders.

On face of it, the PM and the CM “agreed to continue” the ongoing Rangers’ targeted operation in port city and “take it to its logical conclusion” in their meeting at PM House.

“The meeting was held in cordial atmosphere and the prime minister candidly listened to our point of view and assured us of addressing our concerns,” Qaim Shah told a press conference at Sindh House – almost a couple of hours after his meeting with the PM where he had avoided talking to the media.

Sources aware of the meeting deliberations informed The Nation that the PM though assured the CM of resolving the issue politically, gave no indication of withdrawal of federal government’s notification granting absolute powers to Rangers’ in negation of the Sindh government’s letter written in the light of the Sindh Assembly resolution placing certain restrictions on the working of the paramilitary force in Karachi.

The meeting, which remained in session for one hour and 20 minutes, the PM was assisted by Interior Minister Nisar Ali, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and his Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatimi. The CM was accompanied by Sindh Home Minister Sohail Anwar Saiyal and Finance Minister Murad Ali Shah.

Sources said that when the chief minister raised the issue of provision of nine billion rupees for the upkeep and recurring expenses on Rangers in the province, the interior minister said that federal government had spent over Rs25 billion on Rangers operation so far. But the PM interrupted and said that the central government would extend all out support and financial help to Sindh in this connection.

However, when Qaim Ali Shah was asked about the issue he said that the issue of funds never figured in the meeting and they just focused on their point of securing their legal and constitutional right.

Sources informed that Sindh chief minister had expressed his reservations over the federal government’s intervention in the affairs of provincial government which according to him was in sheer violation of the constitution after the passage of 18th Constitutional Amendment.

He said that Pakistan People’s Party and his government in Sindh were not averse to Rangers’ operation and all they wanted was to have the whole exercise within the ambit of law and constitution.

The CM said that he was made the captain of the operation in Karachi but he was never taken on board while taking crucial decisions, which he added would not be acceptable to him.

He was also critical of FIAs and Rangers’ raids at various government offices and confiscation of record of these departments which he said was against the very spirit of constitution and infringement on the provincial autonomy.

He said that federal government should have honoured the letter of Sindh government which was based on the Sindh Assembly resolution adopted with majority vote.

The prime minister gave patient audience to CM and his team and assured them of addressing all their genuine concerns. He directed Ch Nisar to visit Karachi within a week to sit with all stakeholders and resolve the issue amicably, a source in the ruling party informed.

In his media talk, Qaim Ali Shah reiterated his government’s stance on placing restrictions on the Rangers, informing him before the launch of any major operation and making Rangers confine their activities to terrorism related matters.

He, however, termed his interaction with the PM positive and constructive but admitted that so far the federal government had not withdrawn its notification granting absolute powers to Rangers in Sindh despite their demand and the matter was deferred till the interior minister’s visit to Karachi.

Qaim tacitly cautioned that the extension of Rangers in Karachi was for 60 days and in case the matter was not resolved within this period it would reemerge after the lapse of this extension. He expressed the hope that federal government would accept the legal and constitutional authority of the provincial government to avoid conflict situation.

He defended his government’s stance of placing certain restrictions on the Rangers by saying that all they were demanding was very much legal and constitutional in nature and the federal government must honour their constitutional and legal rights.

To a question he said that he was having good working relations with the prime minister and dispelled the impression of any bitterness between them.