The federal government on Monday granted a 90-day extension in the deployment of the Rangers paramilitary force in Islamabad, according to an Interior Ministry notification.
At the moment, there is a 2,000 troop strong contingents of the Rangers and 50 contingents of the Gilgit-Baltistan Scouts deployed all over the federal capital.
The government had deployed the paramilitary force in Islamabad on the request of the chief commissioner under Section 4 of the 1997 Anti-Terrorism Act.
This is the first extension in deployment in the capital granted to the Rangers following an Oct 3 controversy surrounding the force’s ‘unauthorised’ deployment outside the Federal Judicial Complex while a hearing of an accountability reference against ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif was underway.
The paramilitary personnel at the premises did not allow anyone, including ministers, lawyers and journalists, to enter the building, prompting an outburst from Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal who questioned whose orders the Rangers were following.
Police and capital administration officers, when contacted at the time, had said that Rangers were deployed in the capital at the request of police, adding that the Islamabad SSP had approached the deputy commissioner (DC) and sought the Rangers assistance for securing sensitive installations, including Parliament House.
In response, the DC had issued an order asking for Rangers deployment, the sources had said, adding that paramilitary personnel usually did not move without written orders, except in the case of counter-terrorism operations.
Soon after that, on October 4, the paramilitary force withdrew its personnel from Parliament House, saying that it did not have written instructions to provide security there.
Subsequently, Iqbal sought an explanation from the Punjab Rangers director general over the unilateral withdrawal of security from Parliament House, as well as the deployment at the Federal Judicial Complex during the hearing of references against Nawaz Sharif without being requested.