SC regrets extending ‘fair chance’ to fugitive Rao Anwar

17 Feb 2018

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NAQEEBULLAH Mehsud’s father talking to the media outside the Supreme Court on Friday.—Tanveer Shahzad / White Star
NAQEEBULLAH Mehsud’s father talking to the media outside the Supreme Court on Friday.—Tanveer Shahzad / White Star

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Friday regretted extending a fair chance to fugitive Rao Anwar — a senior Karachi police officer — and issued a show-cause notice to him for committing contempt of court by not surrendering himself before the court and ordered law enforcement agencies to locate his whereabouts and arrest him.

“The officer has lost a great opportunity by not appearing in court today,” observed Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, adding that the officer should have taken the chance. “The sympathy now for him has ended,” regretted the chief justice while heading a two-judge SC bench.

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.

Issues show-cause notice to police officer for contempt of court, orders his arrest

At the last hearing on Feb 13, the court had asked Rao Anwar to surrender himself before the court by Friday and directed Sindh and Islamabad police to extend security and facilitate his appearance before the court.

On Friday, the court commenced the hearing in the morning and then waited for over 50 minutes in the hope that he will come, but in vain.

Sindh Inspector General Allah Dino Khowaja informed the court that Rao Anwar had made a WhatsApp call when the court had asked him to come and informed him that he would appear in the court on Friday. The IG said he had also given assurances to the officer to facilitate him in this regard.

The chief justice ordered freezing all bank accounts of Rao Anwar and providing security to the witnesses in the case. He observed that the court had responded in a positive manner to the letter the fugitive officer sent to it by assuring him of providing security and appointing a new joint investigation team (JIT) to probe afresh allegations of extrajudicial killings.

The apex court also withdrew its previous order of providing security to Rao Anwar and maintained its earlier directive for the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Military Intelligence (MI) and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to extend all possible assistance to the police in arresting the absconding officer.

The court directed the police to update it about the progress, but at the same time regretted that it was a responsibility of the police to arrest Rao Anwar.

The chief justice also recalled that the Punjab police had been given three days to arrest the suspect involved in raping and killing minor girl Zainab and they managed to do it.

“Though we recognise the Sindh police efforts, no results are forthcoming,” the chief justice said while pointing towards IG Khowaja.

Senior counsel Faisal Siddiqi, appearing on behalf of the father of Naqeebullah Mehsud, informed the court that apart from Rao Anwar, 15 police officers, including ASIs and head constables, were absconding, adding that Rao Anwar had gone to Dubai 74 times. He requested the court to issue a contempt of court notice against Rao Anwar.

The court initiated contempt charges against the police officer under the Contempt of the Court Ordinance 2003 and Article 204 of the Constitution.

Published in Dawn, February 17th, 2018