EX-MALIR SSP Rao Anwar at the FIA immigration counter of the Benazir Bhutto International Airport during his bid to leave the country on Tuesday.—Online
EX-MALIR SSP Rao Anwar at the FIA immigration counter of the Benazir Bhutto International Airport during his bid to leave the country on Tuesday.—Online

RAWALPINDI / ISLAMABAD: The name of senior police officer Rao Anwar, who has been facing an inquiry in an alleged extrajudicial killing case, was placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) on Tuesday afternoon in compliance with a Supreme Court order hours after he had been barred from leaving the country by the immigration staff at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport.

A senior official confirmed to Dawn that the name of Malir district’s suspended senior superintendent of police, booked for killing Naseemullah aka Naqeeb Ullah Mehsud, was placed on the ECL on the order of a three-judge SC bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar.

In the early hours of Tuesday morning, the Federal Investigation Agency stopped SSP Anwar from boarding the Dubai-bound Emirates flight (EK-615) when he arrived at the immigration counter of the airport. Airport sources said the FIA officials told him that he would not be allowed to leave the country due to the murder investigation against him. While he tried to convince the immigration staff to allow him to board the flight by showing a letter about seven-day ex-Pakistan leave reportedly issued by the chief secretary of Sindh, his efforts proved unproductive.

Name of police officer placed on ECL on Supreme Court order; chief justice observes extrajudicial killings were one of allegations for sacking of PPP govt in past

However, no attempt was made to arrest the senior officer and he was allowed to leave the airport, the sources said.

A senior FIA official said that there were no orders from the government to stop him from leaving the country. He was stopped by the immigration staff as he was facing police investigation for killing 27-year-old Naqeeb Ullah Mehsud from South Waziristan during a police raid in Karachi last week.

Hours later the Supreme Court bench, headed by the CJP, ordered the interior ministry to immediately place the name of SSP Anwar on the ECL ensuring that he should not leave the country.

The murder of the young Mehsud sparked an outrage in the country when his family rejected the police allegation that he was a member of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan. Not only the social media was filled with his photographs but also the parliamentarians representing the Federally Administered Tribal Agencies raised voice against the murder.

The uproar drew the attention of the CJP who took suo motu action on the media reports on Jan 19. Chief Justice Nisar sought a comprehensive investigation report from the Inspector General Police within a week. On Tuesday, the Mehsud killing case was taken up by the CJP when during the hearing of a separate case, Advocate Tariq Asad pleaded that he wanted to move a petition about the tragic murder but the registrar office returned it.

SC Karachi registry to hear case on 27th

The chief justice initially decided to take up the matter on Wednesday (today) and even ordered the office to issue a cause list in this regard. But the news about the SSP’s attempt to flee the country flashed on TV screens apparently caused the chief justice to change his mind who soon after the break told Deputy Attorney General Sajid Ilyas Bhatti that IGP A.D. Khowaja, the Joint Investigation Team head and SSP Anwar should appear in person before the Supreme Court Karachi registry on Saturday (Jan 27).

During the proceedings, the chief justice also ordered the Sindh advocate general office to immediately inform the Sindh home department to ensure that the officer should not leave Pakistan.

Also the chief justice observed that the extrajudicial killings were one of the allegations for the sacking of PPP government in the past. The killing of an individual by the state was a clear violation of the fundamental rights of the citizens, the chief justice observed, adding the apex court would not tolerate attempts to ridicule institutions.

Later in the second half of the day, the name of the police officer was finally placed on the ECL. According to a notification issued by the interior ministry on Tuesday, the name of Malir SSP Anwar Ahmed Khan was placed on ECL under Section 2 of the Exit from Pakistan (Control) Ordinance, 1981, in compliance with the Supreme Court suo motu action against him.

Published in Dawn, January 24th, 2018