Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Saturday gave a three-day deadline to the Sindh police to arrest former Malir senior superintendent of police (SSP) Rao Anwar.
The deadline was given during a hearing of a suo motu case regarding the extra-judicial killing of Naqeebullah Mehsood.
Naqeebullah, a 27-year-old hailing from South Waziristan, was among four men killed in an 'encounter' with a police team headed by Anwar in the Usman Khaskheli Goth on the outskirts of the metropolis.
Anwar had insisted at the time that Naqeebullah was a militant affiliated with the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
Inspector General of Police (IGP) Sindh A.D. Khowaja and Additional Inspector General (AIG) Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) Sanaullah Abbasi were present in court during today's hearing, which was conducted by a three-member bench headed by the CJP at the Supreme Court's (SC) Karachi registry.
Khowaja told the court that after the first information report was lodged against Anwar, the police had traced his location to Islamabad. However, the IG was unable to tell the chief justice the current whereabouts of the former SSP.
Khowaja claimed that the police had "tried their best" to arrest Anwar but had so far been unable to do so.
On being asked when the police would be able to arrest and produce Anwar in court, Khowaja remained silent.
Naqeebullah's father, who had also appeared in court, expressed his lack of trust in Sindh police and asked the court to form a judicial commission to investigate his son's extra-judicial killing.
However, the CJP assured him that the court trusted the Sindh police and urged him to allow the joint investigation team and the police to continue with their investigation.
"A judicial commission cannot conduct a criminal investigation," Justice Nisar explained to Naqeebullah's father.
Justice Nisar asked Khowaja if he was under any political pressure, to which the IGP replied in the negative. The CJP told him to work "freely" and vowed that the court will not let "honest officers fail".
The three-member police committee, investigating the encounter under AIG Sanaullah Abbasi, submitted its report in the court today saying that the incident "appears to be a coordinated fake encounter".
The report said that Naqeebullah Mehsud was picked up from a tea hotel on Abul Hassan Isfahani Road along with two friends, Hazrat Ali and Qasim. The three friends were kept in illegal confinement and subjected to torture, and while Ali and Qasim were later released, Naqeebullah was killed in a staged encounter.
The report said that no evidence of Naqeebullah being a terrorist or a criminal was found and the report presented by Rao Anwar on the deceased's activities was actually of a different person who goes by the same name.
It note that though the former SSP Malir claimed to have conducted the tainted Naqeebullah 'encounter' on intelligence reports, no evidence was available to corroborate this claim.
The report also said that while Rao claimed he was not present when the encounter happened, call records show he was at the site of the encounter when it happened.
It confirmed that the former SSP Malir tried to escape abroad and did not cooperate with the committee, which amounts to misconduct and obstructing the process of justice.
The report revealed that 444 people were killed in encounters conducted under Rao Anwar, who was appointed in Malir four years ago.
It also found that "there is extreme fear prevailing among witnesses who are fearful of their security" and as a result "afraid to cooperate during inquiries and investigations against police."
Officials from the Civil Aviation Authority had also been summoned and were ordered by the CJP to submit a report in the next hearing on whether the former SSP had flown out of the country on a private plane.
The case will now be heard on February 1.
'If I knew where he is I would have arrested Anwar by now'
Speaking to the media outside the court, Khowaja said that he would try his best to uphold the court's orders and arrest Anwar within three days. However, when answering a question regarding Anwar's whereabouts, Kowaja said, "If I knew where he would run to, I would already have caught Anwar and brought him here."
"The chief justice has told us that he has directed the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to take a certificate from all private (airline) operators that Anwar has not left the country. The interior ministry has also been told to confirm the same," Khowaja said.
Concluding his talk, Khowaja said that his advice to Anwar would be for him to face the court, "He should adopt the legal course, I am sure the judicial system will safeguard his rights."
Five policemen remanded in police custody
An anti-terrorism court in Karachi on Saturday remanded six policemen into police custody for five days in connection with Naqeebullah case.
Sub-inspector (SI) Yaseen, Assistant Sub-inspector (ASI) Supurd Hussain, ASI Allahyar and others were among those remanded in connection with the 'encounter'.
SP (Investigation) Abid Qaimkhani said that the accused have 'accepted' their crimes during an initial investigation.
Naqeebullah's murder and Rao Anwar's disappearance
Anwar has been under scrutiny over his involvement in a police "encounter" that led to the extrajudicial killing of aspiring model Naqeebullah Mehsud and three others.
Naqeebullah's family negated Anwar's claims regarding his involvement with the TTP and said that the deceased was, in fact, a shop owner fond of modelling.
A statement reportedly issued by a spokesperson of TTP's South Waziristan chapter had also termed Anwar's claim as "baseless", clarifying that the deceased had no links with the banned militant outfit.
Following protests from the deceased's family and friends, the Sindh police chief had ordered an inquiry into the matter and asked a committee to submit a report.
Anwar was removed from his post after the committee concluded that in order to ensure a fair and transparent inquiry into the incident, the former SSP and SP Investigation-II East Altaf Sarwar Malik should be suspended.
The former Malir SSP has been on the run since then. While the police conducted raids to search for him, Anwar released a statement to the media, warning that he has "solid evidence" against the officials who were investigating the case. He also demanded a JIT comprising officials from intelligence agencies conducts the investigation against him.
Talking to Dawn, he had claimed that he was only "following orders from the IGP to show no leniency to terrorists".