An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Wednesday issued non-bailable arrest warrants for five absconders in a terror case registered against former federal minister and PPP leader Dr Asim Hussain. The fight over Hussain continues and is at a point where everyone in Pakistan, from the Sindh CM to the PM are involved in the political quarrel. Though it can be conceded to the PPP that the FIR against Asim Hussain is very weak, it is hard to defend the man and his activities. Additionally, the track record of PPP does not make space for them to be defended either. Asif Ali Zardari hasn’t been in the country for months, Bilwal Bhutto Zardari walked into a PR disaster with his security protocol resulting the death of a child and Qaim Ali Shah, the “captain” of the Rangers operation in Karachi is seen as the biggest critic of the operation.

The Sindh Assembly on December 15 passed a resolution saying that any person not directly involved in terrorism, and is only suspected of aiding and abetting terrorists shall not be placed under preventive detention. The resolution would protect those like Asim Hussain (innocent until proven guilty), and decrease the power of the Rangers. The resolution was rejected by the Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan - resulting in a political quarrel. Chaudhry Nisar has vocally said that the Sindh Assembly is creating a ruckus to protect just one man- Asim Hussain.

After Qaim Ali Shah’s visit to Islamabad to resolve the conflict with the centre over Rangers’ powers in Sindh, the PM has directed Chaudhry Nisar Ali to visit Sindh to ‘sort out’ the outstanding issue. The federal government does not get to skirt blame for mismanaging the issue. If the PM was in Karachi to talk about the Rangers issue, why didn’t he? Did he make the trip just to invite the CM to Islamabad for further discussion? Even a text message would have sufficed for that. Of course, the PPP and the CM took this as a snub.

Clearly there are problems with the Rangers operation, but as the security situation has improved, the issue of the constitutionality of Rangers managing civilian law and order does not seem as pertinent. The central problem is whether the Rangers should be allowed to investigate corruption related to terror-financing, something that should be managed by civilian agencies. Unfortunately, most of our civilian law-enforcement agencies, such as the FIA, the Intelligence Bureau and NAB, have no capacity to investigate and prosecute elite politicians and their crimes- thus requiring, in the words of Asif Ali Zardari, an “invasion of Sindh by the centre”.