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February 14, 2018

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Rao Anwar gets protective bail

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted protective bail to former SSP Malir Rao Anwar, the main accused in the Naqeebullah murder case, and directed him to appear before it on Friday.

A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandyal and Justice Ijazul Ahsen, resumed hearing in the suo moto case on the murder of 27-year-old Naqeebullah Mehsud, who was gunned down allegedly by Rao Anwar and his team in a fake encounter.

The court ordered the formation of a fresh Joint Investigation Team (JIT) in the case and directed Islamabad and Sindh Police not to arrest Rao Anwar and ensure protection to him prior to his appearance before it on February 16.

The court issued the orders in the light of a letter dispatched by Rao Anwar to the Human Rights Cell of the Supreme Court, claiming to be innocent saying he was not present at the site of the encounter.

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar showed AD Khawaja, Inspector General of Police, Sindh, the letter of Rao Anwar wherein he had claimed himself as innocent. The former SSP Malir further revealed that he was not present at the site of the encounter. The chief justice also showed the Sindh IG Rao Anwar's signature on the letter, at which the Sindh Police chief said that the signature seemed authentic.

The chief justice said the former SSP Malir had further claimed always abiding by law and will ensure his presence before an independent JIT and will accept its decision. He observed that the accused should be given an opportunity to defend, adding that Rao Anwar had requested for formation of an independent JIT comprising officials from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Military Intelligence (MI).

The court asked the viewpoint of AD Khawaja to which the police chief said that the accused should be given an opportunity to defend himself and a JIT should be formed as well. The chief justice then granted protective bail to Rao Anwar with direction to him to appear before the court on Friday, besides directing the Islamabad and Sindh Police not to arrest former SSP Malir and ensure protection to him during his appearance before the court.

The chief justice also directed that a brigadier-rank official of the ISI and an official of the IB will be part of the team that will be headed by an 'honest' officer of the court's choosing.

Earlier, during the hearing, AD Khawaja told the court that in pursuance of the court’s earlier direction, secret agencies were approached for the formation of a JIT. He said that letters were dispatched to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), IB and ISI, adding that they have received replies of ISI and IB. The Sindh Police chief said that according to the reply of IB, it had tried to collect data from WhatsApp but could not succeed, adding that efforts were made to ascertain from which mobile set, Rao Anwar used WhatsApp or connected to any Wi-Fi device but again they could not succeed.

He said the IB also contacted the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) but it had not yet replied. At this, the chief justice asked the police chief to simply say that no progress was yet made despite repeated time granted by the court to nab the main accused.

On the last hearing, the court on the request of IGP Sindh had directed the premier intelligence agencies of the country to extend their full support to the Sindh Police for the arrest of Rao Anwar. AD Khawaja had requested for the assistance of intelligence agencies, including ISI, MI and IB for nabbing Rao Anwar.

The chief justice, after accepting the request of IGP Sindh, directed the ISI, MI and IB to provide every possible support to the Sindh Police for arresting Rao Anwar. The court had also directed director general FIA to contact through Interpol all the international airports for locating Rao Anwar.

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