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Malir’s former SSP Rao Anwar. — Twitter

KARACHI: In a major development, an anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Monday acquitted all accused including Malir’s former senior superintendent of police (SSP) Rao Anwar in the high-profile Naqeebullah Mehsud murder case.

Naqeebullah, 27, an aspiring model from South Waziristan was shot dead in controversial circumstances on January 13, 2018, in the city’s outskirts.

The court, while announcing the verdict reserved on January 14, said that the prosecution failed to prove charges against Anwar and co-accused.

The verdict comes exactly five years after the gruesome killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud that triggered nationwide protests against the former SSP and his team. 

Jubilant Anwar praises verdict in ‘fake’ case

Speaking to media after the acquittal, Anwar said a “fake” case was filed against him but thanks to the Almighty and judge this false allegation has been proved wrong.

A visibly jubilant Anwar said that he will give a detailed response on the media later.

He claimed that 25 people were wrongly nominated in the murder case, saying the person killed was a wanted terrorist whose name was Naseemullah and not Naqeebullah.

“He was a wanted militant about whom advertisements were also given including newspapers.”

When asked whether he would like to rejoin the police department, the former police official said one year of his service is left and he “would like to serve Karachi”.

“I freed Karachi from many cruel people.”

‘Travesty of justice’

Following the announcement of the verdict, activist and lawyer Jibran Nasir said that the judgment will be appealed before the high court by the legal heirs of the deceased.

“Rao Anwar [and] 17 other police officials acquitted in Naqeebullah Mehsud case. A travesty of justice but not a surprise in a system where every institution is rotting away like a dead body,” he wrote on Twitter.

The trial

Mehsud was allegedly abducted and killed in a “fake encounter”, which was widely regarded as a case of extra-judicial killing.

Police had claimed that the four men including Mehsud who were killed in the shootout belonged to the outlawed “Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan”. However, the victim’s family rejected the police’s stance, saying that the 27-year-old had no links with any militant organisation. 

Following the nationwide outcry and condemnation of the killing, the Supreme Court of Pakistan had taken suo motu notice of the extrajudicial killing on January 19, 2018. 

Two months later, Anwar, after eluding the law enforcers was finally arrested upon his surrender before the apex court in March 2018.

During the prolonged trial, as many as 51 witnesses, including five eyewitnesses — Muhammad Qasim, Hazrat Ali, Sharoob Khan, Humayun and Afsar Khan — recorded their testimonies. However Rao and others, indicted in the case on March 25, 2019, claimed their innocence while denying the charges.

This is a developing story and is being updated with more details.

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