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KARACHI: A meeting of Sindh cabinet has been underway with Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah in chair to discuss the issue of extension in police powers of paramilitary Rangers in Sindh.

Special powers extended to the paramilitary agency were expired on January 15 (yesterday). The provincial government had extended police powers to Rangers for 90 days on October 18 last year, which expired last night.

The home department has sent a summary seeking extension of police powers to the Rangers but the chief minister has reportedly conditioned extension in the special powers with the approval of the provincial cabinet.

A spokesman of the Chief Minister House had earlier said that the matter will be decided with consultation of the provincial cabinet.

Extension in Rangers police powers becomes a contentious matter at the expiry of the period each time, as the government drags feet to give a new lease to special powers of the paramilitary agency.

The city’s traders and a number of political parties have criticized the government over its alleged hisitation in extension of the powers, which they deem essential for maintenance of law and order in the metropolis.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has demanded extension in Rangers powers for long duration, while Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) has called the government’s silence over the matter a ploy of bargain.

Under the National Action Plan and the Anti-Terrorism Act, the federal cabinet had empowered the Rangers to lead a targeted operation in Karachi with the support of police against criminals involved in targeted killings, kidnappings for ransom, extortion and terrorism.

Karachi has long been gripped by violence, with attacks carried out by militants as well as criminal gangs and militant wings of rival political parties. The Rangers operation was launched in September 2013 in the metropolis to curb crimes in the port city.