There was no sign of Rao Anwar on Friday morning as the Supreme Court began hearing the Naqeebullah Mehsud extra-judicial killing case. Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, after waiting for the absconding police official for about an hour, issued a contempt of court notice to Anwar and directed all law enforcement agencies to arrest him.
He also ordered that the court should be updated about their progress. The chief justice also ordered that all of Anwar’s bank accounts be frozen, and the witnesses in the case be provided security.
“Anwar has lost a great opportunity by not appearing in court today; the court’s sympathy for him has ended,” remarked the CJP. It is the police’s responsibility to arrest Anwar, the chief justice said while adding that the court had given the former SSP a fair chance.
“We gave the Punjab police three days to catch the suspect in the Zainab case and they managed to do it. While we recognise that you are making efforts, they are yielding no results,” the chief justice told Sindh IGP A.D. Khowaja.
When asked if there were any new clues in the case, Khowaja told the court that Anwar had called him on WhatsApp on Wednesday and said that he would appear in court.
“I gave him all kinds of assurances,” the IGP said.
The case was being heard by a three-member bench headed by Justice Nisar. Naqeebullah’s father and his lawyer were also present during the hearing.
The court adjourned the case for 15 days.
On Tuesday, the CJP had ordered the former Malir senior superintendent police (SSP) to appear in court after providing the absconding police official protective bail which expires today Friday.
The chief justice had reprimanded A. D. Khowaja for failing to produce Anwar in court.
“Each and every time, we provide you time [for the arrest of Anwar] but it seems that we [the court] ourselves have to arrest him,” the CJP had said, producing a letter in court which bore Anwar’s signature.
IG Khowaja had acknowledged that the signature on the letter indeed appeared to be Anwar’s. The CJP had directed the police not to arrest Anwar and instead provide security to him; the authorities concerned were told not to make his letter public.
The bench, however, had made it clear that all these directives are conditional to Anwar’s appearance in court on Friday.
Naqeebullah, a native of South Waziristan residing in Karachi’s Sohrab Goth area, was among the four killed in an “encounter” days after allegedly being picked up from a tea stall near the area. Following an uproar over social media, Rao Anwar had insisted all four killed were terrorists a claim refuted by a high-level police inquiry that declared Naqeeb innocent.
The demand for the arrest of Naqeeb’s killers eventually transformed into a movement for rights of citizens of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), with protest in Islamabad ending with assurances from the prime minister to take up the protesters’ demands at relevant forums.