Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Thursday grilled Sindh Inspector General of Police A.D. Khowaja over his failure to arrest former SSP Malir Rao Anwar in connection with the extra-judicial killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud.
A three-member bench of the Supreme Court, presided by the chief justice, was conducting a suo motu hearing on the murder of 27-year-old Mehsud, who was gunned down, allegedly by Anwar and his team in a fake 'encounter'.
After being presented with an investigation report by Khowaja — which found Naqeebullah to be innocent and said that the deceased had been "severely tortured" in custody — the chief justice remarked: "The state has been blamed for his murder. Those who were responsible for providing security are being accused of murder."
The chief justice asked Khowaja what his force was doing when Anwar attempted to flee the country before going into hiding.
"What was the Sindh Police doing?" he questioned. "You did not stop Rao Anwar. Should you not have known [his whereabouts]? I had given you 36 hours."
"Why did you wait for the victim's father to arrive? The parents were miles away from Karachi, how could they have reached there so soon? Why did the police not alert all the airports of the country.
"Rao Anwar's attempt to flee was thwarted by a brave daughter of FIA Immigration," said the judge, referring to Anwar's attempt to fly to Dubai from Islamabad. "God knows what would have happened had he managed to flee."
The chief justice reminded the Sindh police chief that it had put its own neck on the line to keep him in the job when the provincial government tried to get rid of him.
"Do you remember that we had ruled against your removal," the CJP said, implying that he expected better from him. "We had faced such criticism for that judgement."
Khowaja offered to tender his resignation, at which the chief justice said: "What good would that do?"
Khowaja, in his defence, said: "We are using all our resources to arrest him but Anwar has switched off his phones and he knows all the tricks to catching a suspect.
"His last known location was in Dhok Paracha. We have teams operating in Lucky Marwat, Islamabad and interior Sindh. We don't have the ability to trace Whatsapp. We did write to ISI and IB about it."
"What would writing a letter do?" Justice Nisar countered.
Naqeebullah was not involved in terrorism: report
Earlier, Khowaja had submitted his report to the court.
The report contained two major points of debate. It tried to determine if shoot-out in which Naqeebullah was killed was fake and also analysed the victim’s profile.
The report said that Naqeebullah, along with two of his friends, were picked up on January 3, kept in illegal custody and subjected to severe torture; his friends were released on January 6.
The report said Naqeebullah was frequently shifted from one place to another and that SIP Imamullah Marwat and ASI Gada Hussain were present at the crime scene.
The report noted that Naqeebullah was not involved in any terrorism-related activity and was a liberal-minded individual.
Malik Riaz's private jets mentioned
DG Civil Aviation submitted in court affidavit statements regarding flights gone out of Pakistan between January 10 and 29.
He also briefed the court regarding the activities of private jets, saying: "Three flights of private jets have taken place. To this, the chief justice asked who the owner of the private jet was.
"The contractor is Ghaus sahab while the jet's owner is Malik Riaz," the DG answered.
The chief justice asked an affidavit statement of Bahria Town CEO Ali Riaz to be submitted in a day or two.
Chief justice assures Naqeebullah's father of justice
A letter written by Naqeebullah's father was also submitted in the court.
"Rao Anwar claims on the media that he is in Pakistan," the father stated. "Please ask the police how did he disappear during the investigation."
"The entire Fata awaits justice," he added.
To this, the CJP said: "The people of Fata need not worry. Our hearts beat for them. Some day I will even conduct a hearing in Fata."
Upon Khowaja's request, the Supreme Court directed the intelligence agencies to cooperate with the police and ordered for protection to be arranged for the case's witnesses.
The court gave 10 more days for Anwar arrest, instructing the DG FIA to seek Interpol's services and search for Anwar at all the airports of the world.
The court also forbade the media from broadcasting Anwar's messages on the media.
The case was adjourned until February 13.
Senate committee briefed over Naqeebullah case's progress
Additional Inspector Generals (AIG) of Sindh and Karachi on Thursday briefed a Senate's committee formed for the Mehsud murder case.
AIG Mushtaq Meher told the committee that six of the 17 suspects have been arrested, while recommendations have been made to put their names on the ECL.
A member of the committee told the police official of Anwar's claim that he is still in Karachi. "He is in Karachi and you are conducting raids elsewhere," the Senator said. To this, the additional IG replied: "If he is in Karachi then we will catch him there."
AIG Meher admitted the possibility of Anwar fleeing the country illegally by way of Afghanistan exists. At this, PTI MNA Munaza Hassan said: "You are showing Anwar a way out."
"Rao Anwar himself is the one who shows such ways. No one can show him anything," Interior Secretary Sindh, Qazi Shahid, opined.
"Naqeebullah may have left us but his sacrifice has paid dividends. A fake 'encounter' is being investigated for the first time," the interior secretary added.