Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Monday assured police that the Supreme Court does not wish to take charge of the hunt for former senior superintendent of police (SSP) Rao Anwar, who has been on the lam ever since he was accused of involvement in the extrajudicial killing of aspiring model Naseemullah (aka Naqeebullah) Mehsud.
Justice Nisar made the assurance while hearing the case regarding Naqeebullah’ extrajudicial killing in what Anwar had claimed was a ‘police encounter’.
The CJP, however, ordered Inter-Services Intelligence, Military Intelligence, the Federal Investigation Agency and other law enforcement agencies to submit their reports on the matter within the week.
The Supreme Court also ordered the Frontier Corps to submit a report of their findings or else “the relevant officer from the department will be held responsible”.
“We will review the reports once they are submitted,” he said.
During the hearing, Justice Nisar asked Sindh Inspector General of Police (IGP) A.D. Khowaja if there were any developments in Anwar’s arrest, to which IG Khowaja responded saying that while police had arrested a deputy superintendent of police involved in Naqeebullah’s murder, but Anwar was still at large.
“We allowed you to seek assistance from law enforcement agencies and yet the suspect (Anwar) has not been arrested,” the CJP observed. “Only you can tell us why. Did you seek assistance from other agencies?”
The IGP responded in the affirmative but said the assistance had been insufficient.
Additional Attorney General Mohammad Waqar Rana told the CJP that Intelligence Bureau (IB) had submitted its report which mentions that the Sindh deputy director of IB was in contact with the investigation team formed by the Sindh police.
Rana added that the IB had conducted a “forensic examination” of the phone calls made by Anwar. Justice Nisar, however, dismissed the report saying that the report did not mention anything substantial and demanded an explanation why the ISI and MI had not submitted their reports yet.
Adding that the court reposed its confidence in the police chief, Justice Nisar warned that Naqeebullah’s murder must not be turned into a political matter before adjourning the hearing until next week.
Innocent or a terrorist?
In January, Naqeebullah, who hailed from South Waziristan, was killed along with three other suspects killed in an ‘encounter’ with a police team headed by SSP Anwar in the Usman Khaskheli Goth on the outskirts of Karachi.
When questioned, Anwar 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 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 alleged 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 also took suo motu notice of the incident. The Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar has asked the Sindh IGP to submit a report on the matter within seven days.