- PPP leadership gives green signal to extension of Rangers’ stay in Karachi, but not the whole province
- Qaim Ali Shah says he will accept the party’s decision come what may; Murad Ali Shah says news of his possible appointment as Sindh CM is only media’s speculation
The Rangers’ special policing powers will be extended in Karachi, but not in the rest of the province, a meeting of the leadership of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) decided during Sunday’s meeting in Dubai, it has been revealed.
Meanwhile, a day after the decision to replace Syed Qaim Ali Shah as the Sindh chief minister was announced, he said that he was willing to accept any decision made by party leaders. Senior Sindh Finance Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, on the other hand, has said that media has been speculating about his becoming chief minister of Sindh, adding that this decision will be taken by the party.
Former president and PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari gave approval for the long overdue decision of extension of the Rangers’ stay in Sindh, sources said.
The extension order is expected to be signed by the new Sindh chief minister.
The meeting in Dubai was jointly chaired by PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Asif Ali Zardari.
According to PPP sources, it was also decided in the meeting to provide special policing powers to Rangers as well.
Further deliberations on the length of the tenure for the powers and other associated conditions for them are still continuing.
Zardari directed the Sindh government to approve a summary related to the extension of Rangers’ powers in Karachi immediately.
“Once again, the PPP wants to frame some conditions barring the forces from taking actions in some places,” said a PPP leader who was familiar with proceedings of the Dubai meeting.
“The Rangers will be given full powers, as they have been enjoying since 2013. But after recent developments, it has not yet confirmed whether they will be given through a notification or a resolution of the Sindh Assembly,” a PPP source said.
Those present in the Dubai meeting included Chief Minister Shah, Senior Minister Murad Ali Shah, Home Minister Sohail Anwar Siyal, Law Adviser Murtaza Wahab former federal interior minister Rehman Malik, MNA Faryal Talpur and ex-secretary general of the party Latif Khosa.
EXTENSION IN RANGERS’ POLICING POWERS:
Rangers and the Sindh government are at a crossroads over several cases including the arrest of former PPP minister Dr Asim Hussain who has been in the paramilitary force’s custody for almost a year now.
However, the row deepened when Asad Kharal was arrested by the paramilitary force near Hyderabad.
Muhammad Ali alias Asad Kharal, a PPP worker and alleged ‘front man’ for the Sindh home minister, was accused of corruption worth millions of rupees.
Earlier, Khosa told a press conference that the issue of Rangers’ policing powers will be resolved for the sake of law and order in Karachi.
“It is the chief minister’s powers to call Rangers in the province and give them special powers,” he said explaining that the paramilitary force was called in under Article 147 to assist the police.
He added that special policing powers were granted to the Rangers under the Anti-Terrorism Act, which has now expired.
‘I SERVE AT THE LEADERSHIP’S PLEASURE’:
“My fate as Sindh CM is in the hands of the party leaders and I will accept any decision they make,” CM Shah said upon his arrival in Karachi from Dubai on Monday.
The move didn’t come as a surprise given a guessing game in the media about a possible change in the provincial administration.
On the other hand, Murad Ali Shah said while talking to media on Monday that he is a party worker and will be content with any role given to him by the party. He said that his party will decide who will be the next chief minister of Sindh.
He said that recently in Dubai he had met with the Pir Pagro and they agreed to extend cooperation with one another in the larger interest of Sindh.
‘I SAW IT ON TV’:
Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Khursheed Shah expressed unawareness about the changing of the Sindh chief minister. He said he came to know this news through media, a private TV channel reported.
The leader of opposition said he came to know through media that Murad Ali Shah had replaced Qaim Ali Shah as chief minister.
He termed Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan’s objection to posting of the new member of the Election Commission of Pakistan from Punjab as baseless. He said he had taken senior leader of PTI Shah Mahmood Qureshi into confidence over Justice Altaf’s name. He said the PTI had, however, raised objection over Justice Tariq Khosa’s name.
“Justice Altaf’s name was third in the list presented by the opposition parties,” he said.
Khursheed Shah had also objected that Khosa was a worker of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
QAIM’S REMOVAL WAS IMMINENT:
While the party did not cite any reasons for the removal of the chief minister, sources say Qaim had a soft corner for the Rangers and was in favour of extending policing powers of the paramilitary force in the province.
Recently, when the policing powers for Rangers expired, Qaim had attempted to convince the party’s leadership (Zardari) to grant an extension in the powers for the sake of peace in Karachi; however, it seemed to have not gone down well.
“Four days ago, Zardari telephoned him [Qaim], and the chief minister looked perturbed since then,” sources in the Chief Minister House said, adding that after the call, Qaim told his personal staff that his days in the Chief Minister House were numbered. This was Qaim’s third tenure as chief minister. He has spent nearly 10 years in office, the longest period among his peers. He, however, faced scathing criticism during his past two tenures with allegations ranging from bad governance to incompetence in handling various governmental issues.
Since the party has a simple majority in the Sindh Assembly, it can easily elect a new leader of the house. It has 92 legislators, followed by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM)’s 51, Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F)’s 11, PML-N’ 10, while the PTI has three members.
“The PPP does not need any party’s support since it has the majority to elect a new leader of the house who will become the chief minister,” Secretary Sindh Assembly GM Umar Farooq said.
PPP sources said the party is expected to convene a meeting on Tuesday in Karachi where Shah will formally tender his resignation, and the party will announce his replacement.
WHO WILL BE THE NEW CM? OTHER CANDIDATES IN THE RUNNING:
A few names are already making the rounds in political circles for the coveted post. Murad Ali Shah, a senior minister for finance, energy, planning and development, is said to be a strong candidate for the slot.
Other contenders include senior minister for education and literacy, and parliamentary affairs Nisar Khuhro, Minister for Mines and Mineral Development Manzoor Wassan, Home Minister Sohail Anwar Siyal and Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani.
However, party sources have dismissed these names as speculation.