Paramilitary Rangers could be deployed in Pakistan’s Punjab province for at least two months to hunt down terrorists and their facilitators after conducting similar operations in Karachi with the provincial government making a request in this regard. The Punjab government sought deployment of Rangers from the Interior Ministry for at least two months to assist police and the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) in “hunting down terrorists and their facilitators and combating banned organisations” in the province.
The Punjab government had immense pressure from the army to intensify operations against terrorists and banned organisations to avoid any major act of terrorism in the province. Former interior minister Rahman Malik had disclosed that there are more than 150 sleeper cells of militants of banned organisations in Punjab’s southern part.
Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said Rangers would assist police and the CTD in conducting intelligence-based operations and providing security during Eid-ul-Azha and Muharram. He said the need to seek the help of Rangers was felt during meetings presided over by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the aftermath of the Quetta tragedy in which over 70 people mostly lawyers were killed.
Sanaullah said there is a need to expand the sphere of operations against terrorists and their facilitators under the Nation Action Plan (NAP).
“We are seeking the assistance of Rangers but not giving them policing powers like they are enjoying in Karachi,” he said. The Rangers will be deployed in Punjab under sections 7 and 10 of the Pakistan Rangers Ordinance 1959 to assist police and the CTD in proceeding against the outlawed organisations and hunting down terrorists and their facilitators.