The Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Wednesday revealed that he has received a letter from absconding Sindh police officer Rao Anwar asking the court to unfreeze his bank accounts.
The Supreme Court was hearing the case regarding extrajudicial killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud in Karachi allegedly by a police party led by the former Malir Senior Superintendent Police (SSP) Rao Anwar.
“I do not know whether the letter is real or fake,” the CJP said about the letter, which is now the second message received directly by Justice Nisar allegedly written by the absconding police official. “The letter has been kept in a file.”
In his first letter, sent last month, the officer had claimed that he was innocent and that he was not present at the site of the encounter when Mehsud was killed. The officer had also requested for a free and fair joint investigation team (JIT) to look into the controversy. The court had then asked Anwar to appear before the bench but on his failure to do so, the SC had issued a show-cause notice to the police official for committing contempt of court by not surrendering before it despite being given a fair chance. The law enforcement agencies were also ordered by the court to locate his whereabouts and arrest him.
The CJP on Wednesday expressed dissatisfaction with the progress in the murder case. Naqeebullah's killing had sparked protests on social media as well as rallies across the country. The arrest of Rao Anwar was one of the major demands of Pashtun Tahafuz Movement's (PTM) long march which eventually culminated into a sit-in outside the Islamabad Press Club.
“Reports are being presented [in court] but there is no progress,” the CJP remarked.
Deputy Attorney General Sohail Mehmood informed the court today that all suspected individuals have switched off their mobile phones. The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has said that it is providing technical assistance to Sindh police while the Military Intelligence (MI) claims that it has limited technical means to trace the suspects but it is still aiding the civilian law enforcement agencies, added Mehmood.
At this, Justice Nisar asked Sindh Inspector General (IG) A.D. Khowaja whether he was being assisted by the intelligence agencies. The IG responded in the affirmative, adding that the initial first information report (FIR) of the incident — claiming Naqeeb and three others killed in the encounter were militants — had been dismissed.
Faisal Siddiqui, representing Naqeeb's father, asserted that the authority of the state was being questioned as only 10 of the 24 accused have been arrested so far.
“This is a very important question,” the CJP remarked while IG Khowaja claimed 12 arrests have been made so far.
The case was adjourned until Friday.
Innocent or a terrorist?
In January, Naqeebullah, who hailed from South Waziristan, was killed along with three other suspects killed in an 'encounter' with a police team headed by SSP Anwar in the Usman Khaskheli Goth on the outskirts of Karachi.
When questioned, Anwar had claimed that the deceased was a Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militant. However, Rao has been on the run since the probe team, in its report, concluded that Naqeebullah's murder was extrajudicial and that the victim had no links to the terrorist organisation.
A statement reportedly issued by a spokesperson of TTP's South Waziristan chapter had termed Anwar's claim as “baseless”, clarifying that Naqeebullah had no links with the banned militant outfit.
Naqeebullah's family had also disputed the SSP's claim, saying that the 27-year-old had no links with any militant organisation.
Naqeebullah — whose name is given as Naseemullah on his national identity card — was a shop owner fond of modelling, a relative of the deceased had earlier told Dawn.
Following an uproar on social media over the staged encounter, Sindh Home Minister Sohail Anwar Siyal and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had taken notice of the incident.
The next day, the Supreme Court of Pakistan had also taken suo motu notice of the incident.