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January 19, 2018

Rao Anwar faces yet another inquiry as protests erupt against Naqeeb Mehsud’s killing


January 19, 2018

Another inquiry against Malir District SSP Rao Anwar was initiated on Thursday as people from all walks of life gathered at the Karachi Press Club to protest about a 26-year-old man’s alleged extrajudicial execution last Friday.

The relatives of Naseemullah, alias Naqeeb Mehsud, claim he was picked up by plain-clothes officials on January 3 from Gul Sher Agha Hotel in Sohrab Goth and then murdered on January 12 in an alleged police encounter in Shah Latif Town by SSP Anwar and his men.

Police had claimed killing four terrorists during a shoot-out that day, and after the suspects’ pictures were released, Naseem’s relatives found out that he was among those gunned down.

On Thursday Sindh’s police chief, Inspector General of Police AD Khowaja, ordered that a three-member committee be formed to investigate the accusations against SSP Anwar.

Earlier, responding to a question on Twitter, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said he had asked Home Minister Suhail Siyal to conduct an inquiry.

Replying to the PPP chief’s tweet, Siyal said on the microblogging website that he had ordered an inquiry and appointed the South Zone deputy inspector general of police (DIGP) as the investigating officer.

The home department issued a notification telling Khowaja to direct the South Zone DIGP to conduct an inquiry into the matter and submit the findings within 15 days.

News conference

SSP Anwar told a news conference that a baseless propaganda was being promoted through the media. “According to confirmed reports of intelligence agencies, Naqeebullah was associated with the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). He hailed from South Waziristan’s Makeen tehsil and was involved in terrorism.”

Listing Naseem’s alleged terrorist activities, Anwar said the man had martyred Frontier Corps (FC) junior commissioned officer Alam, killed his own relative Aijaz Mehsud because he suspected him of spying for the Pakistan Army and attacked an FC camp in which his cousin Battu was killed.

The SSP said that after the launch of a military operation in Waziristan, Naseem had fled home and started living in Karachi and sometimes in Balochistan, adding that the man had changed his name to Naseemullah and started working for the TTP in Balochistan.

The officer claimed that Naseem had no residence in Karachi and that he did not have any shop in his name or rented any establishment in any part of the city.

Meanwhile, pointing an accusing finger at the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Haleem Adil Sheikh, SSP Anwar claimed that the party was running a baseless campaign against him on social media because he had registered a case against Sheikh for torturing a private school’s guard and damaging school property in a fake child sexual abuse case in Ibrahim Hyderi earlier this month.

Protests against Anwar

Besides a campaign against Anwar on social media, a large number of people, including civil society activists, members of political parties and Pashtun tribal leaders, from various Pashtun neighbourhoods demonstrated against the officer at the press club.

Urging the government to end the alleged trend of extrajudicial killings of Pashtuns, especially Mehsud tribesman, in the city, the protesters demanded the authorities to suspend Anwar for his assumed involvement in a number of similar killings.

The National Youth Organisation (NYO), the Pashtun Students Federation (PSF), the PTI, the #FixIt campaigners and the Pashtunkhwa Students Organisation arranged separate demonstrations. Civil society activists, including Jibran Nasir, Naghma Shaikh, Saeed Baloch and Abubakkar Yousafzai, also participated in the protests.

Holding banners and placards, they shouted slogans such as “stop extrajudicial killings”, “we condemn victimisation of Pashtun youth at the hands of law enforcement agencies” and “suspend SSP Rao Anwar”.

The News talked to some of the protesters who claimed that association with certain tribes, especially the Mehsud clan, had become a crime because the TTP leadership mostly belonged to those tribes.

“Police treat every Mehsud as a TTP supporter and have adopted an ‘arrest and kill’ policy for us if we fail to bribe them,” said Ali Hazrat, a Mehsud student from Sohrab Goth.

PSF Sindh President Fida Kakar claimed that dozens of Pashtun youth in Karachi had been murdered in an extrajudicial manner. “Extrajudicial killings are increasing and there’s a lack of transparency about the number of people picked up or later released. It’s a serious violation of fundamental human rights.”

NYO Sindh President Aijaz Aslam said law enforcement agencies should stop racial stereotyping of Pashtuns, especially of the people belonging to Fata, and their harassment.

Nasir demanded a judicial inquiry into the alleged murder of Naseemullah, claiming that fake shoot-outs by law enforcement agencies had become a routine practice across the country.

Meanwhile, elders of various Pashtun clans living in Karachi have announced gathering near Malik Agha Hotel in Sohrab Goth after the Friday prayers to come up with a strategy to stop law enforcement agencies’ increasing harassment of the Pashtun community.

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