SC gives Sindh IG yet another deadline to arrest still at-large Rao Anwar

The Supreme Court gave Sindh Inspector General (IG) A.D. Khowaja until Monday to arrest the absconding Sindh police officer Rao Anwar after Khowaja assured the court that Anwar would be arrested soon.

The development came during the hearing of the suo motu case regarding the extrajudicial murder of Naqeebullah Mehsud at the SC’s Karachi registry.

The court asked the Sindh IG to present a report in Islamabad registry on Monday, March 19.

The SC had in January issued a three-day deadline for Anwar’s arrest while another was given by an anti-terrorism court last month. However, the authorities have failed to do so — despite support from intelligence agencies — amid rumours that the absconding officer has flown abroad.

Speaking after the hearing, Sindh IG said that Anwar’s videos acquired from Karachi and Islamabad airports are not clear enough and efforts are being made to find more footage. He added that during the ongoing investigation, no evidence has been found of the former Malir SSP travelling abroad.

He told the media that the court had allowed the police more time to arrest Anwar upon his request.

Naqeeb’s father Mohammad Khan again rejected rumours of any backdoor deal with Anwar and reiterated his confidence in the courts. “We will continue to appear in court until Rao Anwar is arrested,” he said.

The court has so far received two letters from Anwar — first requesting a free and fair joint investigation team and the second asking court to unfreeze his accounts. The veracity of the letters has yet to be ascertained.

Staged encounter

In January, Naqeebullah, who hailed from South Waziristan, was killed along with three other suspects in an ‘encounter’ with a police team headed by SSP Anwar in the Usman Khaskheli Goth on the outskirts of Karachi.

When questioned, Anwar had claimed that the deceased was a Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militant. However, Rao has been on the run since the probe team, in its report, concluded that Naqeebullah’s murder was extrajudicial and that the victim had no links to the terrorist organisation.

A statement reportedly issued by a spokesperson of TTP’s South Waziristan chapter had termed Anwar’s claim as “baseless”, clarifying that Naqeebullah had no links with the banned militant outfit.

Naqeebullah’s family had also disputed the SSP’s claim, saying that the 27-year-old had no links with any militant organisation.

Naqeebullah — whose name is given as Naseemullah on his national identity card — was a shop owner fond of modelling, a relative of the deceased had earlier told Dawn.

Following an uproar on social media over the staged encounter, Sindh Home Minister Sohail Anwar Siyal and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had taken notice of the incident.

The next day, the Supreme Court of Pakistan had also taken suo motu notice of the incident.