Saturday December 09, 2023

Amid widespread criticism of his acquittal, Rao Anwar hoping to rejoin police force

January 26, 2023
A former police officer Rao Anwar speaks with the media after a court acquitted him over the killing of a shopkeeper in Karachi, on January 23, 2023. — AFP
A former police officer Rao Anwar speaks with the media after a court acquitted him over the killing of a shopkeeper in Karachi, on January 23, 2023. — AFP 

There are many who believe that the recent acquittal of former District Malir SSP Rao Anwar in the Naqeebullah killing case is a big question mark on the judicial system of the country; however, for Anwar, the recent decision by the trial court was announced purely on merit as he claimed to have no involvement in the alleged extrajudicial killing.

After his acquittal, Anwar is now demanding reinstatement in the police force, saying that he had one full year left in the police service when he was suspended after being booked in the killing case. He reached the age of superannuation while the case was being heard.

In an exclusive talk with The News, the former Malir SSP said he was looking forward to playing a key role again to curb rising terrorist incidents in Karachi. He remarked that the law and order situation in the city had deteriorated beyond imagination in five years since his ouster. “Street crime, land grabbing, terrorism … Karachi is beset with problems from all sides,” he said.

Anwar believes he holds the key to Karachi’s law and order issues. “Even if I’m not reinstated, people still know me as a cop who delivered,” he said. “I still have a vast network and people are still willing to provide me information that can in turn help control crime in the city.”

He said he feared that Karachi could witness another wave of terrorism if timely action was not taken as various militant outfits, including the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and the Balochistan Liberation Army, had joined hands to sabotage the peace of the metropolis. “Terrorism, street crime and land grabbing, these are three major issues of Karachi now,” he said. “Karachiities have already been left at the mercy of land grabbers and street criminals, but there is also a possibility of an increase in terrorist incidents in the city in the coming days as terrorists from different outfits, including the TTP, have reached Karachi once again,” he said.

He claimed to have successfully dealt with terrorists for years. Explaining the modus operandi of terrorist groups, he said terrorists did not commit any terror activity immediately after arriving in the city as they stayed here for some time to do preparations or homework before carrying out their activities. He warned that right now, terrorists in the city were in their planning stage.

Referring to a recent terror activity in Islamabad, he said terrorists had already reached the federal capital. “After Islamabad, Karachi will be their prime focus in order to generate funds and show their presence.”

About the possibility of him rejoining the police, he said he still wanted to serve Karachi. “I never worked for myself or my family. My family is safe as they are abroad. I will work against militancy if I get chance to rejoin the police department as one year of my service is left,” he said. When asked if there was any precedent for extensions to cops in the past, he said there were examples of former senior police officials in the past who were given extensions and he expected the same. “I will not leave anyone and will bring them to justice after rejoining the force. Get ready to face me,” he said.

For the law and order issues in Karachi, Anwar blamed policies of the police department. “The operation and investigation wing of the police department should be merged and there should be one in-charge for operations and investigations.”

He said that if the investigation department was not strengthened, criminals or terrorists would continue to take advantage of the weak investigation. He also mentioned corruption in the police department as a reason for its failure to effectively deal with criminals.

He also supported the demand of many political parties, including the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, for local policing. Inducting locals of the area in its police force would solve many problems, he said.

To the allegations that he had killed 444 innocent people in fake encounters, he said he wanted to ask his accusers where they were when he was supposedly killing those innocent people and why they waited for many years.

“Everyone is saying that these 444 were innocent people. I want to tell them that the 10 terrorists killed in the Karachi airport attack and 12 others for whom the government had announced head money of millions of rupees were among them. Were these innocent people?”

He said he was always accused of criminal activities and fake encounters during his posting in District Malir. “Businessmen were being kidnapped for ransom and police were being targeted when I decided to take action against those challenging the writ of the state. Then the terrorists became my enemies. How the people who are blaming me forget that several of my policemen, including two DSPs, were killed by terrorists and the terrorists established their own state within a state in these areas where they were holding their own courts and had made them no-go areas?,” He appealed to the prime minister and the army chief to initiate an inquiry against those who attempted to involve him in a fake case.