FOR the justice system to appear credible, it must punish all those who are found guilty, including the high and mighty. Unfortunately, in Pakistan, there seems to be one law for the common man, and another for those who have the ‘means’. On Tuesday, an antiterrorism court in Karachi granted bail to suspended police officer Rao Anwar in the murder case of Naqeebullah Mehsud. The aspiring young model — along with three others, all dubbed Taliban militants — was gunned down in a bogus encounter in the outskirts of Karachi in January, which Rao Anwar is accused of masterminding. While it is true that all suspects are innocent until proven guilty, it appears that the police officer, believed to be patronised by powerful quarters, is getting preferential treatment. He has been granted bail though he is accused of murder, whereas often those accused of lesser crimes, but without connections, are denied bail. The suspended SSP’s house in Malir cantonment has been declared a ‘sub-jail’. Whenever appearing in court, Mr Anwar is brought without handcuffs, while all the other accused are denied this ‘privilege’. All this while, both a Supreme Court-mandated joint interrogation report, as well as the former head of Sindh’s Counter-Terrorism Department have said that the encounter in which Naqeebullah and the others was killed was fake, and that Rao Anwar had a central role to play in it.
Encounters, in particular, are a matter of shame for our law-enforcement system. It is, therefore, important that those police officers involved in this heinous act be brought to justice. While Rao and others of his ilk were believed to freely play the role of judge, jury and executioner across Karachi’s vast expanse, the Naqeebullah killing brought into focus the issue of fake encounters like few cases before it had. Therefore, it is imperative that all those involved in this case are tried and brought to justice, and that no preferential treatment is given to any suspect, no matter how powerful. Those in uniform who kill with impunity must be sent a strong message.
Published in Dawn, July 12th, 2018