|Branch||Civil Armed Forces|
|Type||Paramilitary / Gendarmerie|
|Size||c. 25,000 active personnel|
|Part of||Paramilitary Forces|
|Motto(s)||Urdu: داﯾمً ﺳﺎﮪرً|
|Director-General, Punjab||Major-General Muhammad Aamir Majeed|
|Director-General, Sindh||Major-General Iftkhar Hassan Ch.|
The Pakistan Rangers (Urdu: پاکستان رینجرز) are a paramilitary federal law enforcement organization in Pakistan, operating under the authority of the Interior Secretary of Pakistan. Their primary purpose is to secure and defend sites of significance in the country, although they are also usually involved in major internal and external security operations with the regular Pakistani military and provide assistance to municipal and provincial police forces to maintain law and order against crime, terrorism and unrest.
"Rangers" is an umbrella term for the Pakistan Rangers − Punjab and Pakistan Rangers − Sindh (colloquially referred to as the Punjab Rangers and Sindh Rangers, respectively), with the former headquartered in Lahore, Punjab and the latter headquartered in Karachi, Sindh—the two provinces of Pakistan in which each respective force has operational jurisdiction. As such, the Pakistan Rangers are responsible for guarding Pakistan's international border with neighbouring India; the Punjab Rangers patrol 1,300 kilometres (810 mi) of the border running along Pakistan's Punjab province, while the Sindh Rangers patrol around the remainder, some 912 kilometres (567 mi) running along Pakistan's Sindh province. The two forces operate under their own separate chains of command and wear distinct uniforms.
Most famously each evening, the Punjab Rangers, together with their Indian counterparts in the Border Security Force, participate in an elaborate flag lowering ceremony at the Wagah−Attari border crossing near Lahore.
The mutually-recognized India–Pakistan international border is different from the disputed and heavily militarized Line of Control (LoC), where the Pakistani province of Punjab adjoins Jammu&Kashmir (a conflict territory between India and Pakistan) and the undisputed international border effectively ends. Consequently, the LoC is not managed by the paramilitary Punjab Rangers, but by the regular Pakistan Army.
Rangers are formally supervised by the Special Security Unit in the National Crises Management Cell, under the federal Ministry of Interior of Pakistan. However, they can also be commanded by officers on secondment from the Pakistan Army. As of 2017, per the British International Institute for Strategic Studies, the Rangers had well over 25,000+ active personnel. As part of the paramilitary Civil Armed Forces, the Rangers can fall under the full operational control of the Pakistan Armed Forces. This is not exclusively limited to a wartime scenario, but whenever Article 245 of the Constitution of Pakistan is invoked to provide "military aid to civil power". An example of this occurring was in 2013, when Karachi, Pakistan's most populous city, had ranked as the sixth-most dangerous city worldwide due to intense violence by criminals, corrupt political agents and Islamist militants (whose presence came as a consequence of the Soviet–Afghan War and Pakistan's intake of millions of Afghan refugees in the 1980s). As the situation severely deteriorated and fell out of the control of local police, the Pakistan Rangers undertook a large-scale military operation and initiated an intense crackdown on criminals, the MQM political party, as well as Taliban-aligned militants. This operation took Karachi down from the world's sixth-most dangerous city to 93rd, and allowed the residents of Karachi to resume a normal lifestyle that had been disrupted due to the chaos.
The Pakistan Rangers are legislated by the Pakistan Rangers Ordinance of 1959.
After the independence of Pakistan in 1947, the protection of its eastern boundaries with India was allotted to various temporary forces, such as the Punjab Border Police Force, Bahawalpur State Police, Khairpur State Police and Sindh Rifles.
Because the Rangers were neither correctly structured nor outfitted for a specific duty, on 7 October 1958 they were restructured and renamed to the West Pakistan Rangers. In 1972, following the independence of East Pakistan and Legal Framework Order No. 1970 by the Government of Pakistan, the force was officially renamed from the West Pakistan Rangers to the Pakistan Rangers and put under control of the Ministry of Defence.
In late 1989, due to growing riots and the worsening situation of law and order in the province of Sindh, a new force was raised for a strategic anti-dacoit operation. The paramilitary force operated under the name of the Mehran Force and consisted of the then-existing Sindh Rangers, three battalions of the Pakistan Army (including the Northern Scouts). The Mehran Force was under the direct command of the Director-General (DG) of the Pakistan Rangers with its nucleus headquarters in Karachi.
Following these series of events, the federal government decided to substantially increase the strength of the Pakistan Rangers and raise a separate, dedicated headquarters for them in the province of Sindh. On 1 July 1995 the Pakistan Rangers were bifurcated into two distinct forces, the Pakistan Rangers – Punjab (Punjab Rangers) and Pakistan Rangers – Sindh (Sindh Rangers). Consequently, the Mehran Force and other Pakistani paramilitary units operating in the province of Sindh were merged with and began to operate under the Sindh Rangers.
The West Pakistan Rangers fought alongside the Pakistan Army in several conflicts, namely the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 and the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. After the war in 1971 and subsequent independence of Bangladesh, the force was federalized under the Ministry of Defence as the Pakistan Rangers and shortly afterwards in 1974, it was made a component of the Civil Armed Forces (CAF) under the Ministry of Interior. Since then, the Pakistan Rangers are primarily responsible for guarding the border with neighbouring India during times of peace and war. The Pakistan Rangers are credited for providing the Pakistan Army with additional troops for Special Police Units (SPUs) for various peacekeeping missions during the Yugoslav Wars (United Nations Protection Force - Croatia/Bosnia and Herzegovina) and in Haiti (United Nations Stabilization Mission - Haiti).
UN peacekeeping troops from SPUs are entrusted with the task to provide protection and security to UN officials, provide operational and backup support, respond to threats to public order, and assist various humanitarian agencies. The Pakistan Rangers have participated in military exercises with the Pakistan Army's Special Service Group (SSG) and also assisted with military operations in the past since their revitalization and rebuilding after the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. The first such participation was in 1973, when they operated under the command of the SSG to raid the Iraqi embassy in Islamabad alongside local police. In 1992, the Sindh Rangers saw an extensive deployment throughout Karachi to keep peace in the city in support of the Government of Sindh. The Sindh Provincial Police and Pakistan Rangers were involved in Operation Blue Fox against the MQM with direction from the Pakistan Army. Due to their close association with the military, the Rangers also saw combat against regular Indian troops during the Kargil War of 1999 in Kashmir. In 2007, the Pakistan Rangers alongside regular Pakistani soldiers and SSG commandos participated in Operation Silence against Taliban forces in Islamabad. The conflict started when, after 18 months of tensions between government authorities and Islamist militants, Taliban terrorists attacked the Punjab Rangers guarding the nearby Ministry of Environment building and set it ablaze. Immediately following this event, they proceeded to attack a nearby Pakistani healthcare centre, notoriously kidnapping an abundance of Chinese nurses, and subsequently locked themselves inside the Red Mosque with hostages. Two years later, in 2009, the Rangers once again participated in a special military operation in Lahore alongside the SSG, when twelve terrorists operating for the Taliban attacked the Manawan Police Academy in Lahore. The operation ended with eight militants killed and four captured. Later that year, the Government of Pakistan deployed the Punjab Rangers to secure the outskirts of Islamabad when the Taliban had taken over the Buner, Lower Dir, Swat and Shangla districts. Following these incidents, the Rangers participated in the Pakistan Army's Operation Black Thunderstorm.
The Pakistan Rangers are a paramilitary force with the primary purpose of serving as the border guard for Pakistan along the Indo-Pakistani International Border. The two distinct divisions of the Rangers (Sindh and Punjab) function under the authority of a separate Director-General (DG) appointed by the Pakistan Army after clearance from the Chief of Army Staff. The DG of the Rangers holds the 2-star officer rank of Major-General. Currently, the DG of the Sindh Rangers is Major-General Omar Ahmad Bokhari, whereas the DG of the Punjab Rangers is Major-General Muhammad Aamir Majeed.
Aside from the primary objective of guarding the border with India, the Rangers are also responsible for maintaining internal security in Pakistan and serve as a major law enforcement organization in the country. Despite this, they do not possess the power to make arrests like the regular police with the exception of when the state temporarily sanctions them with such an authority in times of extreme crisis. Their primary objective as an internal security force is to prevent and suppress crime by taking preventive security measures, cracking down on criminals and thwarting organized crime with the use of major force. All suspects apprehended by the Rangers during a crackdown are later handed over to police for further investigation and possible prosecution when the chaos is brought under control. The same privileges are also temporarily granted by the government to other security organizations such as the Frontier Corps for the same reasons.
The Rangers are also tasked with securing important monuments and guarding national assets in all major cities, including Islamabad.
In the past, they have also served as prison guards for high-profile terrorists until they were withdrawn from such duties.
The Rangers have notably contributed towards maintaining law and order in Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore in major crises. Due to the developing internal instability in Pakistan, the Rangers have become an extremely necessary force to maintain order throughout the provinces of Sindh and Punjab.
Pakistan Rangers – Sindh
In March 2016, the Sindh Rangers requested the Supreme Court of Pakistan to allow the paramilitary force to establish its own policing stations throughout Karachi, citing the lack of composure and efficiency on the part of the regular Sindh Police.
In addition to the Sindh Rangers' primary duty of border security (covering the province of Sindh's 912 kilometre-long border with India), they also have the responsibility of patrolling and protecting the Indus River, national highways and areas with hilly terrain where regular police forces cannot operate properly.
Pakistan Rangers – Punjab
Like the Sindh Rangers, the primary duty of the Punjab Rangers is that of border security for the Pakistani province of Punjab's 1,300 kilometre-long border with India. The force, consisting of about 16,100 Rangers, is also employed on internal security duties throughout Pakistan—notably in the Islamabad Capital Territory, Rajanpur, and many other districts and cities.
Rangers Anti-Terrorist Squad (RATS)
The specialized anti-terrorist squad of the Pakistan Rangers was launched in early 2004, in the wake of extreme unrest due to the spillover from the War in Afghanistan. Its function is similar to that of the Pakistan Army's SSG albeit on a provincial level. The squad was activated and began to receive training from the SSG due to the inevitable fact that the Rangers (an organization meant to deal with regular criminals) would now have to deal with a threat that would otherwise be undoubtedly superior to them—such as the Taliban and other al-Qaeda-aligned groups.
Training and selection
Selection for the Pakistan Rangers lasts between 2–3 weeks and both males and females can join. Disregarding physical fitness standards, an applicant must be between 18–25 or 18–30 years old to qualify for entry with the Punjab Rangers and Sindh Rangers, respectively. The educational standards for the Rangers require that the applicant have passed with a degree in the Faculty of Arts (FA) or Faculty of Science (FSc), roughly equivalent to a high school diploma in the United States from a government-registered college. An applicant must also hold Pakistani citizenship in order to be eligible to join. After selection and training, a Ranger can be deployed to any place in their respective province (countrywide in times of crises) or abroad if necessary, according to the Pakistan Rangers Act of 1959.
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Although the Pakistan Rangers are under the administration of the Interior Ministry of Pakistan, key positions in the force, including Director-General (DG) of the Rangers, are headed by the members of the Pakistan Army. The DG of the Pakistan Rangers is appointed by the Pakistan Army's General Headquarters (GHQ). Qualifiers for the position of DG are officers with a two-star rank of Major-General. The majority of the leading officers in the Rangers come from the Pakistan Army, however many departmental officers in the Rangers can be inducted as direct-entry sub-inspectors. These officers can reach a maximum rank of SSR (Senior Superintendent of the Rangers) - roughly equivalent to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the Pakistan Army.
OR, NCO, JCO ranks:
These Inspectors are called rankers means they have been promoted from OR's to these ranks same as army Sepoys can be promoted to JCO's ranks and in some cases honorary captain. Personnel joining as sepoys can reach a maximum rank of honorary DSR (Deputy Superintendent of the Rangers), which would be equivalent to Captain in the Pakistan Army.
- Direct Entry Sub Inspector (with the responsibilities of a 2nd Lieutenant)
- Inspector(with the responsibilities of a Lieutenant)
- DSR (Deputy Superintendent of the Rangers) - equivalent to Captain
- SR (Superintendent of the Rangers) - equivalent to Major
- SSR (Senior Superintendent of the Rangers) - equivalent to Lieutenant Colonel
First Officer rank in Pakistan Rangers is Direct Entry Sub Inspector they are called probationer, although they are not gazetted and they are in BPS 14. They have the same protocol which army Second Lieutenant have after the passing out. Direct Entry Sub Inspector can maximum reach to the Rank of SSR (Senior Superintendent of the Rangers) - equivalent to Lieutenant Colonel of Pakistan Army
The rank insignia are the same as those used by the Pakistan Army, except for Inspector ranks which use the standard police rank insignia.
Wagah–Attari flag-lowering ceremony
Wagah and Attari, the only open road border crossing between Pakistan and India, is the site of a notorious flag lowering ceremony each evening. During the ceremony, Indian Border Security Force personnel and Pakistani Rangers carry out a drill in which they mirror each others' actions predominantly consisting of high-kicks, foot stamping, marches and aggressive stares. Despite the outward display of what seems to be aggressive nationalism, arrogance and pride, the meticulously synchronized drills actually require a high degree of cooperation and coordination from both sides. The ceremony is attended by numerous spectators from both nations, as well as foreign tourists.
- Automatic Rifles – 7.62mm Heckler & Koch/POF G3, 7.62mm Type 56, 5.56mm Steyr AUG
- Submachine Guns – 9mm Heckler & Koch/POF MP5, 9mm SMG-PK (Machine Pistol)
- Pistols – Glock series, Sigma series
- Sniper Rifles – Heckler & Koch/POF PSR-90, Steyr SSG 69
- Hand Grenades – ARGES P84 (POF made)
- Anti-Tank Weapons – RPG-7 (POF made), M40 recoilless rifle
- Machine Guns – 7.62mm Rheinmetall/POF MG3
- Heavy Machine Guns – 12.7mm Type 54 (POF made)
- Mortars – Various locally produced in use
- Bulletproof Jackets – Various local and foreign types
- Helmets – Modular Integrated Communications Helmet (MICH) and various indigenously-produced helmets
- Optics – NVGs
- Utility Vehicles – Toyota Hilux, APC Saad/Talha
- Helicopters – Mil Mi-17, Bell 412, Bell 206
- Sub-Inspector Amarjeet Singh – the first Pakistani Sikh officer of the Punjab Rangers.
- SSR Malik Mukhtar – the first officer of the Pakistan Rangers to reach the rank of Senior Superintendent of the Rangers (SSR) – equivalent to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the Pakistan Army. He is also known for his show of valour during the Pakistan Army's Operation Blue Fox against an MQM insurgency in Karachi.
Role of peace maintenance in Karachi
When threats to the business and political community were increasing alarmingly in Karachi in the forms of kidnapping for ransom, extortion, industrialists began to shift their investments and activities to Bangladesh and other countries. Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani took notice of the dire situation and at the request of the government as well as the business community, the Pakistan Rangers were deployed with special powers granted by the constitution. The Rangers played a crucial role in restoring and maintaining peace and curbed law offenders without any discrimination and consideration of political affiliation. The people of Karachi and the business community in particular took major relief from this and lauded the role of the Rangers throughout Sindh. Director-General (DG) of the Sindh Rangers, Ejaz Chaudry visited the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry on 17 November 2011 – where the entire business community unanimously acclaimed the Pakistan Rangers' role in maintaining peace in the city and demanded the extension of their stay with special orders for another year.
U.S. Lieutenant-General Vincent R. Stewart praised the anti-insurgency operations being conducted in North-West Pakistan by the Pakistani military. He also praised the extensive operations carried out in Karachi by the Pakistan Rangers, claiming they all helped reduce violence in the country by a fair amount.
Foreign peacekeeping missions for the United Nations
The Pakistan Rangers have also been involved in international peacekeeping operations for the United Nations (UN) in a number of countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Haiti and others.
Notable operations, incidents and controversies
- 1973 – Under the authority of the Pakistan Army's Special Service Group (SSG), the Punjab Rangers and Islamabad Police raided the Iraqi embassy in Islamabad after an intelligence report disclosed the presence of armaments and funds meant for Baloch insurgents from a joint Iraqi-Soviet operation.
- 2007 – the Punjab Rangers alongside the SSG participated in the Siege of Lal Masjid against Taliban forces.
- 2011 – Rangers from the Sindh force were involved in the controversial shooting of a 22-year-old unarmed Pakistani civilian that was caught on camera. The footage was later broadcast by major news networks throughout the country and sparked intense public backlash and protests. All of the Rangers involved in the incident were immediately prosecuted by authorities, and the Sindh High Court sentenced Shahid Zafar (the Ranger who killed the civilian) to death. Various appeals for acquittal were made by Zafar's lawyers but were overturned by the Supreme Court of Pakistan which upheld the death sentence.
- 2015 – the Sindh Rangers raided the main office of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in Karachi and detained members of the party. An abundance of illegal armaments and ammunition were seized in the raid.
- 2016 – In January, two employees working for Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) were found dead after a chaotic public protest blocked a road near Jinnah International Airport. The Sindh Rangers were assigned to clear the streets of protesters and restore order which is the primary suspicion of the cause behind these two deaths.
The Sindh Rangers are starting their own radio show in Karachi, known as "Rangers Hour" on FM 101, which is intended to communicate with and broadcast news as well as relevant updates to the people of the metropolis; preceding this, a radio service was also launched by the Sindh Provincial Police on FM 88.6 with a similar purpose. The Sindh Rangers also established a 24-hour helpline (1101) for the people to report any applicable information or crime/terrorism in the city. The Pakistan Rangers' first official animated film, produced by DJ Kamal Mustafa, was released on Defence Day 2020, and showed significant operations carried out by the Rangers in Karachi.
A Pakistani Ranger during the Wagah-Attari border ceremony.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Pakistan Rangers.|
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