Senior police official Rao Anwar, who is under scrutiny over his involvement in the alleged extrajudicial killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud, was removed from his post as the senior superintendent of police (SSP) Malir on Saturday.
The decision was taken by Sindh Inspector General of Police (IGP) A.D. Khowaja soon after an enquiry committee looking into the alleged murder of Mehsud submitted its initial report to the Sindh police on Saturday morning.
"The committee is of unanimous opinion that in order to ensure fair and transparent enquiry of the incident and investigation into the case, SSP Malir Rao Anwar and SP Investigation-II East Altaf Sarwar Malik may be transferred and placed under suspension," reads the press release issued by IGP Khowaja, adding that a letter has been sent to the Sindh government chief secretary to suspend Anwar and Malik.
The committee has also recommended that Anwar and Malik be placed on the Exit Control List (ECL). A letter to this effect has been sent to the Interior Ministry.
A notification regarding the transfer of Rao Anwar, a copy of which is available with DawnNews, says: "Mr Anwar Ahmed Khan, an officer of Sindh Police (BS-18), Senior Superintendent of Police, District Malir, Karachi Range, is transferred and directed to report to CPO Sindh, Karachi with immediate effect and until further orders."
The same notification also states that SP Malik has been removed from his post and given the same directives.
According to a separate notification, SSP City Adeel Hussain Chandio will replace Anwar on his post, while SSP Shiraz Nazeer will take on the role of SSP City in Chandio's stead.
The committee, headed by Additional IGP Sindh Counter-Terrorism Department Dr Sanaullah Abbasi and comprising DIG East Sultan Ali Khowaja and DIG South Azad Khan, was formed on Thursday to investigate the veracity of the "police encounter".
Anwar had appeared before the committee on Friday and submitted 'evidence' supporting his claim that Mehsud was a TTP militant.
Editorial: Murder or encounter?
Dr Sanaullah Abbasi on Saturday said that the report contains statements from police officials present at the scene of the 'encounter'. The investigation is underway and will be concluded after speaking to Mehsud's family. The committee will submit its conclusive findings in five days, says the report.
"Everyone on this investigative team is honest and the nation will see justice be served," Abbasi said after submitting the report.
Innocent or a terrorist?
Mehsud, a 27-year-old hailing from South Waziristan, was allegedly among four suspects killed in an 'encounter' with a police team headed by Anwar in the Usman Khaskheli Goth on the outskirts of the metropolis last week.
Anwar has stuck to the claim that Mehsud was a Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militant but so far, no evidence has emerged.
A statement reportedly issued by a spokesperson of TTP's South Waziristan chapter, however, had termed Anwar's claim as "baseless", clarifying that the deceased had no links with the banned militant outfit.
Mehsud's family also disputed Anwar's claim, saying that the 27-year-old, who hailed from Waziristan, had no links with any militant organisation.
Naqeebullah Mehsud — whose name is given as Naseemullah on his national identity card — was a shop owner fond of modelling, relatives of the deceased had told DawnNews.
Sindh Home Minister Sohail Anwar Siyal and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had taken notice of Mehsud's death on Thursday following an uproar on social media over the alleged staged encounter.
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.
Additional reporting by Imtiaz Ali