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New JIT over killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud

14 February, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered formation of a new joint investigation team (JIT) over the alleged extra-judicial killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud and granted protective bail to the prime accused, former SSP Malir Rao Anwar, directing him to ensure his appearance before the court on Friday.

A three-member Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Jutices Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, ordered this while hearing a suo motu case on the murder of 27-year-old Naqeebullah Mehsud, who was allegedly killed by Malir SSP Rao Anwar and his team in a fake encounter on January 17 in Karachi.

The court also directed the Sindh and Islamabad Police not to arrest Rao Anwar and provide him adequate security until the JIT completes its probe. The protective bail stands valid till Friday. The court made it clear that all these directives were conditional to the appearance of Rao Anwar on Feb 16.

The court held that the JIT will be headed by an honest officer chosen by the court and it will also comprise a brigadier-rank officer of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and a senior officer of the Intelligence Bureau (IB).

Appearing on notice, Inspector General of Police Sindh AD Khawaja admitted before the court his failure to trace out and arrest Rao Anwar and sought more time to nab the accused.

Expressing dismay over Khawaja’s repeated failure to nab the accused, the chief justice told him that he had been unable to meet two deadlines to arrest the accused, which was a question mark on his performance.

“It seems as if we (the judges) ourselves have to arrest Rao Anwar,” the chief justice regretted, and showed the IGP a letter by Rao Anwar which he had written to the Human Rights Cell of the apex court. After seeing the letter, AD Khawaja confirmed that the letter was from Rao Anwar as the signatures put on it were that of the former Malir SSP.

In his letter to the court, Rao Anwar contended that he was innocent, adding that he was even not present at the site of the ‘encounter’. He also stated in the letter that Naqeebullah was also innocent.

He requested in his letter that officials of ISI, IB and Military Intelligence (MI) may be included in the JIT. The chief justice observed that no one can be declared guilty without evidence.

Rao Anwar stated in his letter that he was a law abiding person and ready to present himself before an independent JIT and accept its decision whatever it may be. Giving weight to the letter, the court ordered formation of a new JIT. To court queries, Khawaja stated that Rao Anwar should be provided with a chance to defend himself.

He stated that a committee had been constituted to trace the whereabouts of Rao Anwar. When the court inquired about the outcome of the committee to trace out Rao Anwar, Khawaja stated that in this regard he had furnished the reports of ISI, IB and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). Khawaja stated that the matter was being treated as a high-profile case and police was making its best efforts to trace Rao Anwar by the location of his cell phone, which was continuously going switched off. He said IB had tried to trace him through Whatsapp, however to no avail.

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