There was no sign of Rao Anwar on Friday morning as the Supreme Court began hearing the Naqeebullah Mehsud extra-judicial killing case.
When Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar inquired about Anwar, Sindh Inspector General of Police A. D. Khowaja told him that he had not arrived. The case was being heard by a three-member bench headed by Justice Nisar.
“Let’s wait a little longer for Anwar,” said Justice Nisar, adjourning the hearing for a short break. Naqeebullah’s father and his lawyer were also present during the hearing.
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.