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Pakistani Provincial Assembly Votes To Rein In Paramilitary Powers

A Pakistani provincial assembly has voted to rein in paramilitary forces in the southern port city of Karachi while, at the same time, extending their stay by one year for a campaign against violent criminal groups and terrorists.

The vote sets up a showdown between Pakistan’s powerful military and the civilian government in the southern province of Sindh -- which is dominated by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).

It also reflects a dispute between the opposition PPP and the central government in Islamabad , which is run by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League.

Sharif’s government broadly supports the military-backed campaign in Karachi.

The December 16 resolution limits the crimes the paramilitary Rangers can detain suspects for to targeted killings, extortion, kidnapping for ransom, and sectarian killings.

It also forbids the detention by the Rangers of "any person who is not directly involved in terrorism and is only suspected of aiding and abetting terrorists."

The paramilitary campaign is credited with greatly reducing Karachi’s murder rate since 2015.

But critics say it has brought a wave of extrajudicial killings and the targeting of opposition activists.

Based on reporting by Reuters and