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May call for strike in Karachi if Rao Anwar not arrested soon: Mehsud leaders

By Zia Ur Rehman
February 05, 2018

As the protest sit-in demanding justice for slain tribesman Naqeebullah Mehsud entered its fifth day in Islamabad, leaders of the Mehsud community in Karachi threatened to announce a strike here if the government and law-enforcement agencies do not arrest former SSP Rao Anwar, who killed Naqeeb in a fake encounter, within a week.

After the news of Naqeeb’s January 13 extrajudicial killing emerged, Karachi’s Mehsud elders set up a sit-in camp on January 18 at Sohrab Goth, under the banner of the Pashtun Qaumi Jirga, which continued for nearly two weeks. Thousands of people from across the city and key leaders of mainstream political and religious parties and civil society organisations attended the protest camp.

However, after receiving assurances of justice from a delegation of the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights – headed by Senator Nasreen Jalil and comprising senators Farhatullah Babar, Nisar Muhammad, Sitara Ayaz – which visited the camp, the jirga leaders called off the protest at Sohrab Goth and shifted it to outside Islamabad Press Club on February 1. The community leaders have once again called for Anwar’s arrest and threatened agitation.

Speaking to The News on Sunday, Naqeeb’s father Muhammad Khan, who is still in Karachi meeting people coming to condole his son’s death, said that he was satisfied with the ongoing protest for justice for Naqeeb and other innocent people who have been killed in an extrajudicial manner.

But he added that if law-enforcement agencies fail to arrest Anwar within a week, the Mehsud community will resume its Karachi protest camp after consulting elders leading the sit-in in the federal capital.

Refuting reports of any comprise with the former SSP Malir in the name of blood money or Diyat, Khan said that some forces who want to protect Anwar had intentionally been spreading the false rumours. “I want to see Anwar being punished in my lifetime,” he said.

Zafar Mehsud, an organiser of the Sohrab Goth sit-in who is now attending the Islamabad protest, said that community leaders in Islamabad will decide future plans to put pressure on the government and law-enforcement agencies to nab Anwar.

“For this purpose, they are also considering the option of calling for a wheel-jam strike in Karachi and to make it successfulthey will contact all mainstream political parties and civil society organisations,” Mehsud told The News over the phone from Islamabad. “Naqeebullah has been killed but now the goal of our protest is to protect other innocent Naqeebullahs from being killed at the hands of black sheep in the police force.”

Hailing from Waziristan, 27-year-old Naqeeb, whose social media posts show that he wanted to be a model, was picked up by policeman in civvies on January 3 from Abul Hasan Ispahani Road. His relatives said that his whereabouts were unknown until January 13 when the police, under the command of Anwar, killed him with along three other people in what it claimed was a shoot-out with terrorists in Shah Latif Town.

Following claims of innocence from Naqeeb’s family and subsequent protests by civil society, an inquiry committee was formed headed by Sindh Counter-Terrorism Department chief Sanaullah Abbasi, which found Anwar guilty of the extrajudicial murder and declared Naqeeb innocent.

Although six policemen of Anwar’s team have been arrested since then, he and others are still at large. The Supreme Court of Pakistan has also directed intelligence agencies to help Sindh police arrest the cops involved in the murder.