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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked fugitive Rao Anwar — a senior Karachi police officer — to surrender himself before the court by Friday and directed Sindh and Islamabad police to extend security and facilitate his appearance before the court.

While producing a letter the absconder officer had written to the court under his signature, Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar regretted that every time the court provided time to the Sindh police to arrest the officer, but now it seemed that the court had to arrest him.

The Supreme Court had taken notice of the tragic murder of 27-year-old Naqeebullah Mehsud from South Waziristan who was killed in an encounter by a police team allegedly led by Senior Superintendent of Police Rao Anwar in Karachi on Jan 13.

The murder sparked outrage on social media when his family rejected claims that Mehsud was a member of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan. The deceased was aspiring to become a model and the social media contains several of his pictures that appear to have been taken for a modelling photo shoot.

In his letter to apex court, police officer seeks free and fair JIT to probe Naqeebullah’s murder

The chief justice, while heading a three-judge bench, said the officer had in his letter claimed that he was innocent and that he was not present at the site of the encounter when Mehsud was killed. The officer requested for a free and fair joint investigation team (JIT) to look into the controversy.

When the court asked Sindh Inspector General Allah Dino Khowaja how the court should proceed in view of the letter, he said the officer should be provided a chance to defend himself.

The court asked Rao Anwar to appear at the next hearing on Friday. It ordered the police not to arrest the officer, but made it clear that the directives, which also included the setting up of a new JIT, were conditional to the officer’s appearance on Friday.

“Rao Anwar, in his letter, has requested to include in the JIT the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Military Intelligence (MI),” the chief justice said, adding that though “Mehsud was our child, the officer should also be provided justice”. “We cannot declare anyone guilty without evidence,” the chief justice observed.

IG Khowaja informed the court that a committee had been constituted to locate the whereabouts of Anwar and the case was being handled as a high-profile one. He said the police were trying to trace the location of Anwar’s mobile phone and added that even the IB was unable to find any clue in this regard.

At the last hearing on Feb 1, the IG had requested the court to order intelligence agencies to help the Sindh police that lacked the facility to trace or locate WhatsApp calls.

The court regretted that the result of all efforts made by the police was zero.

Shahzeb murder case

In a separate development, the chief justice took suo motu notice of reported shifting of accused Sharukh Jatoi and two others from jail to hospital after cancellation of their bail by the Supreme Court.

The court had on Feb 1 set aside the bail earlier granted to the three accused involved in killing 20-year-old Shahzeb Khan in Karachi in December 2012, and ordered the police to take Sharukh Jatoi, Siraj Talpur and Sajjad Talpur into custody, with an observation that the bail would be considered nullity in the eyes of the law.

The chief justice sought a comprehensive report from the Sindh prison IG within 24 hours.

News clarification

Also on Tuesday, the chief justice asked a senior report of Geo TV why the management of The News and Urdu daily Jang did not publish a clarification earlier issued by the apex court regarding a lead headline: “Wish Shahbaz is next PM” on Feb 12 edition.

In its clarification, the Supreme Court office had said the statement of Rana Sanaullah that the chief justice desired that the PML-N form the next government was totally false and concocted.

On Monday, the chief justice had directed the Geo reporter to ask Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, the chief editor and publisher of The News and Jang, to appear in court on Tuesday and explain the situation.

On Tuesday, the court told the reporter that if the media group again failed to run the correction, Mr Rahman should personally appear before it to explain.

The court also took notice of Mr Rahman’s earlier statement in which some objectionable remarks were made against a senior judge of the apex court.

Qayyum Siddiqui, a senior reporter of Geo, informed the court that he had conveyed the court’s directive to the chief editor, but he was not aware why the papers did not run the correction.

The court warned that if the media group failed to publish the clarification with the same display as was given to the earlier story, it would order the Sindh and Islamabad police chiefs to produce Mr Rahman before the court.

Contempt case

A separate SC bench headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan on Tuesday afforded another opportunity to Minister of State for Interior Tallal Chaudhry to engage a counsel to defend him in a contempt of court case.

Mr Chaudhry informed the bench that he had engaged Asma Jahangir as his counsel but due to her sudden death he could not find time to engage another lawyer. He requested the court to provide him some more time. The court asked the minister to engage the counsel by Monday.

It is believed that Talal Chaudhry’s recent speech at a public meeting in Jaranwala in the presence of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz drew the attention of the court that issued the contempt notice to him.

Published in Dawn, February 14th, 2018