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SC rejects Rao Anwar's petition to have his name removed from ECL

Updated January 10, 2019

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Rao Anwar is accused of murdering an innocent youth named Naqeebullah Mehsud in a staged 'encounter'. — File
Rao Anwar is accused of murdering an innocent youth named Naqeebullah Mehsud in a staged 'encounter'. — File

The Supreme Court on Thursday turned down former Malir Senior Superintendent Police (SSP) Rao Anwar's petition to have his name removed from the exit control list (ECL).

Anwar is accused of being involved in the murder of Naqeebullah Mehsud — an aspiring model and shopkeeper from South Waziristan — and others in a fake police encounter in Karachi, but is currently out on bail.

Dawn Investigation: Rao Anwar and the killing fields of Karachi

He had petitioned the court to have his name removed from the ECL on account of performing Umrah and attending the wedding of his daughter abroad.

At the outset of the case today, Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar questioned Anwar's counsel as to how his client was out of jail despite being accused of murder.

"Rao Anwar was an absconder," Justice Nisar noted, referring to the former policeman's infamous disappearance in the wake of the emergence of allegations against him.

"How did he [Anwar] get acquitted?"

"Rao Anwar wasn't acquitted; he is out on bail," the counsel replied. "His family lives abroad. He wants to meet them and also wants to perform Umrah with his family."

The chief justice suggested that Anwar's family be called to Pakistan as he set aside the petition.

"Confiscate Rao Anwar's petition," the top judge ordered. "He has killed a young boy. Until the trial is over, Rao Anwar will stay in Pakistan."

The chief justice rubbished Anwar's justification for seeking ECL exit, saying that the actual purpose of the petition is to "deposit abroad the wealth looted from here".

Furthermore, Justice Nisar said that "this bench knows how Rao Anwar was arrested".

"He was provided all facilities during his arrest," he added.

Naqeebullah case

Naqeebullah Mehsud was among four people killed in an encounter on January 13. While Anwar had claimed that all four of the men killed, allegedly on his orders, belonged to the terrorist outfit Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), social media had erupted in protest against Mehsud's killing after it was found that he was an aspiring model.

The tainted police officer had gone into hiding soon after demands for his arrest in the Naqeebullah murder case had gained traction. A police JIT had then found the encounter was staged.

Anwar had then resurfaced in a dramatic manner at the Supreme Court, after repeated pleas from the chief justice, from where he was subsequently arrested.

Soon after his arrest, his house in Malir Cantonment was declared a sub-jail. He had later moved an application for provision of better class facilities in the sub-jail. The court had accepted Anwar's application for better facilities, including an exemption from being handcuffed.

In July 2018, an anti-terrorism court (ATC) had ruled that Anwar was not present at the time Naqeebullah and three others were extrajudicially killed in an alleged ‘staged’ encounter. A week later, the ATC had granted bail to Anwar.