ISLAMABAD - The new chief executive of Sindh has assumed charge of his office, but the federal government is still waiting for his nod to extend policing powers of Pakistan Rangers in the province.

Though the paramilitary forces is still doing its law and order duties in Karachi without any legal cover, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali yesterday expressed the hope that CM Murad Ali Shah will resolve the issue in a day or two.

Rangers is currently leading an operation against criminal elements in Karachi, which was initiated back in September 2013 after the federal cabinet empowered the force to lead a targeted operation with the support of police against criminals, targeted killers, kidnappers, extortion mafia and terrorists in Karachi.

A high level meeting of Pakistan People's Party (PPP) held in Dubai had principally decided to resolve the issue of extension in Rangers' powers in metropolitan Karachi that expired on July 19. The party however did not tell if it would also mandate the federal force to act in other parts of Sindh.

According to interior ministry sources, Nisar has directed the Rangers to go ahead with its targeted operations in Sindh even if the provincial government does not grant extension to its powers. The force has also been asked to withdraw security from VIPs gradually.

The interior minister told reporters in Taxila on Saturday that Karachi operation was started in 2013 in consultations with the Sindh government in the light of the orders of Supreme Court.

"I hope that new chief minister and his cabinet will play a positive role in extension of Rangers' powers," he said, adding that it was a matter of concern that the issue had been made controversial.

Nisar said that no one should have any ambiguity with regard to Rangers operation in Sindh as the force has been tasked to end terrorism in Karachi and maintain law and order in the city.

"The federal government can play its role in the internal security of the province under articles 147, 148 and 149 of the constitution," he said, adding that they wouldn't go waste the sacrifices of Rangers given in Sindh during last two and half years.

He also said that the Rangers had full backing and support of the federal government and the powers extension issue would be resolved in a day or two. The situation of Karachi had improved because of the role played by the Rangers. "It cannot happen that we do not give powers to Rangers and expect them to perform."

Replying a question, he said he would only comment on the performance of Sindh new captain when he comes out to bat. To another query, he said the meeting of Saarc interior ministers in coming days is multilateral in nature.

The minister on July 19 had written a letter to then Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah asking him for extending special powers of Rangers in the province.

"Unnecessary delay in extension of powers to Rangers in Sindh will not only disrupt operation against terrorists but also put negative impact on the performance of the civil armed force", he said in the letter.

The extension issue has remained a bone of contention between the federal and the Sindh governments for past some months, as the latter wanted that paramilitary force should stay in the province with more limited powers.

The deployment of Rangers in Karachi is requisitioned under Article 147 of the Constitution and Section 4 of Anti-Terrorism Act 1997. The law authorises the civil armed force to prevent the commission of terrorist acts, or scheduled offences in notified area for the punishment of terrorists in accordance with the provision of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997.