US blacklisting is an attempt to 'divert attention' from occupied Kashmir, claims Rao Anwar

Updated December 12, 2019

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This screengrab shows former police officer Rao Anwar speaking about on the move by US to blacklist him for human rights abuses. — Photo courtesy screengrab from video via Twitter
This screengrab shows former police officer Rao Anwar speaking about on the move by US to blacklist him for human rights abuses. — Photo courtesy screengrab from video via Twitter

Former Malir senior superintendent of police Rao Anwar claimed that United States' move to blacklist him for human rights abuses was an attempt to "divert attention from the struggle for occupied Kashmir".

In a video that surfaced on social media on Wednesday, a day after the US announced its move, the former police official — known infamously as an ‘encounter specialist’ and accused of involvement in nearly 200 phoney encounters — said: "I was an SSP of the police force and we fight against terrorists. There were nearly 400, 500 or 440 terrorists [who were killed]. There is not a single complaint against me that I killed anyone out of greed or in a fake encounter.

"Even today, two years after my removal, there has been no complaint."

Anwar demanded the US government to "apologise or prove" the charges against him. He added that he would file a case in Washington against the move through his lawyer and also write a letter to the US embassy.

"Name one suspect who said that I cooperated [...] or used to do mix-ups. Forget American, [authorities] can punish me in Pakistan."

Editorial: Rao Anwar's listing

On Tuesday, the US administration blacklisted Anwar for engaging in "serious human rights abuse" by carrying out alleged fake police 'encounters' in which scores of individuals, including Waziristan native Naqeebullah Mehsud, were killed.

"During his tenure as the Senior Superintendent of Police in District Malir, Pakistan, Rao Anwar Khan (Anwar) was reportedly responsible for staging numerous fake police encounters in which individuals were killed by police, and was involved in over 190 police encounters that resulted in the deaths of over 400 people, including the murder of Naqeebullah Mehsood," the US Treasury had said in a statement.

Naqeebullah's murder

Anwar had retired from police service while being suspended and facing trial for killing four men, including South Waziristan youngster Mehsud, in a fake encounter last year, official sources had told Dawn earlier this year.

Dawn Investigations: Rao Anwar and the killing fields of Karachi

After protests by the civil society and anger on social media, the Supreme Court had last year taken suo motu notice and ordered Anwar's arrest. Protests staged by the Mehsud tribe and the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) had also lent impetus to the call for justice for Naqeeb.

Anwar had gone into hiding soon after demands for his arrest gained traction after it came to light that Mehsud had been a shopkeeper and an aspiring model from Waziristan who had settled in Karachi.

He was arrested in March 2018 when he finally appeared before the Supreme Court after eluding law enforcement agencies for over a month. After spending more than three months in prison, an anti-terrorism court granted him bail which led to his release.