On Tuesday, during the hearing of the Naqeebullah Mehsud extrajudicial killing case, the honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan was presented with a letter by the primary accused, SSP Rao Anwar, who is currently at large. In the letter, which was presented by his lawyers, Rao Anwar pleaded innocent, stating that he was not present at the site when the encounter took place. Rao Anwar also stated in his letter that the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) set-up to investigate him was “biased” and was out to pin the murder on him unfairly.
In light of his misgivings, Anwar asked the court to grant him:
- Protective bail (and)
- Constitute a new JIT that would include representation from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Military Intelligence (MI).
The Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), in his remarks said that while Naqeebulla Mehsud was “our child,” the court could not declare Rao Anwar guilty until sufficient evidence was provided against him.
As of now, Rao Anwar has been provided with protective bail on the condition that he will appear before the court on Friday, 16 February 2018.
The fact that Rao Anwar has not yet been arrested despite repeated calls by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, already had the masses agitated. Now that he has been granted protective bail and it is expected that a new JIT in line with the demands of the accused might be set-up has further irked Pakistanis.
Notable public figures were the first ones to point out the absurdity of the situation.
SC not only bars arrest of Rao Anwar, a police officer accused of murdering more than a hundred people, but he is also to choose the department of his investigators. What makes him so privileged? Is he a mere executioner implementing orders of high & mighty?
— Afrasiab Khattak (@a_siab) February 14, 2018
Rao Anwar gets protective bail from Supreme Court. Encounter specialist gets VIP treatment/JIT of his choice and no Sicilian Mafia & Godfather insults issued https://t.co/fdoLqyB9SO
— Murtaza Ali Shah (@MurtazaViews) February 14, 2018
The provision of protective bail has propelled many Pakistanis to raise questions on the integrity of the judiciary – one of the few respected institutions in Pakistan.
A letter purportedly written by Rao Anwar was used to provide relief to a fugitive by the highest court of the state. What happened in the SC yesterday should worry everyone who believes in the rule of law. https://t.co/PO1pNYm8BR
— W Akram (@wasim_akram79) February 14, 2018
How come the SC didn't even ask where Rao Anwar was — for days it's been scolding the Sindh Govt for not producing him in Court — now a letter purportedly written by him was received by the Court — instead of ascertaining where he was, it ordered that he not be arrested
— omar r quraishi (@omar_quraishi) February 13, 2018
As wrongly believed by some, Anwar’s demand for the formulation of a fresh JIT has not yet been granted by the Supreme Court. The approval of this request is contingent with Rao Anwar’s appearance before the court on Friday. However, the provision of protective bail alone has left Pakistanis restless.
Given the high profile ties that Anwar enjoys with the richest and most powerful people in the country, many fear that the accused might never be brought to justice.
We have full faith in the judiciary and believe that justice should be allowed to take its due course without politicizing the matter. However, at the same time we also dearly hope that young Naqeebullah Mehsud’s murder will not be allowed to become a mere statistic and that his murderers – no matter how well-connected – will be made an example for the corrupt officials who continue to kill innocent Pakistanis while serving their mighty masters.
May justice prevail!