Rao Anwar, the cop who 'encountered' Malir

Despite being suspended several times in the past Rao Anwar makes a comeback

Faraz Khan January 22, 2018
Rao Anwar. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: SSP Rao Anwar had been working as SSP Malir for at least six years and is said to have killed around 300 alleged terrorists in ‘encounters’. He is also said to be a close aide of a top leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and had always preferred to remain in Karachi’s District Malir.

During his tenure, the courts have served him many contempt notices for his failure to appear before them. In fact, a few inquiries were also initiated against him, but interestingly nothing could be proved against the SSP.

This is also not the first time that SSP Anwar has been suspended.

The first time that SSP Anwar was suspended was by the Supreme Court in 2013 following the deadly blast at Abbas Town.

Later, he was suspended by former Sindh chief minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah following his controversial press conference against the MQM for misusing his authority.

Naqeebullah murder: Former SSP Rao Anwar claims being 'wrongfully maligned'

In that presser, Anwar had demanded that the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) be banned following the arrests of two MQM men linked to the India’s spy agency, the Research and Analysis Wing. Interestingly, one of the accused – Tahir Lamba - was later released by the court due to lack of evidence.

In September 2016, Anwar was suspended on the Sindh chief minister’s order after he raided the house of Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) leader Khawaja Izharul Hasan. The SSP arrested the opposition leader in the Sindh Assembly for his alleged links with terrorists. An inquiry was initiated against him. But after a few months, he was reinstated.

Since his appointment in early 1980s in the Sindh police, Anwar has remained a controversial figure and is widely considered as a “PPP man”. He became most controversial when he played a vital role in the Karachi operation against the MQM in the 1990s. During the operation he had killed and arrested several of MQM men, including the notorious Farooq Dada.

The SSP disappeared for several years after the 90s operation and during the tenure of former president General (retd) Musharraf, when MQM was in power.

SSP Rao Anwar survives ‘suicide attack’ in Karachi

Many police officials and personnel who played a part in the 90s operation were allegedly killed by the MQM’s militant wing. But after SHO Sarwar commando, he is the only officer who remained alive and continues to serve in the police department.

Anwar re-joined the force in 2008 and was posted as Keamari DSP, shortly after the PPP government came to power in 2008.

After serving few months as Kemari DSP, the PPP led government promoted him to the rank of SP and appointed him as Gadap SP.

Although SSP Anwar was famous as an ‘encounter specialist’ during the 90s operation but after PPP government elected in 2008, there was a change. After being posted as Gadap SP, Anwar was not only killing MQM men in encounters he also started killing militants of the banned outfits, particularly the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

SSP Anwar has also faced and survived multiple attacks by militants, as he was one of the main officers of the Karachi police fighting with the Taliban in Karachi and so far killed about 250 militants in the city.

The deadliest attack at him was the 2012 suicide attack which occurred at Malir Halt area of Karachi and the recent ‘suicide attack’ in the Malir Cantt area on January 13.

Rao Anwar personally summoned by SHC

When Anwar was appointed as SSP Malir in 2011, he had only four police stations of Malir under his command. As the SSP is considered as the most powerful police officer in the history of Sindh police the District Bin Qasim and Gadap were also merged in with District Malir. Anwar, who is also considered to be more powerful than the Sindh IG, now had a total 15 police stations under his command.

It has also been reported that no police official, including the Sindh IG, can appoint or transfer any cop without his permission in the Malir district.

Many believe that Anwar has been a close aide of PPP Co-chairman Azif Ali Zardari. Interestingly, Anwar, during Zardari’s tenure as president, was demoted to his original rank sub-inspector after a Supreme Court order. However, the former president used his executive powers and reinstated Anwar as an SSP following a suicide blast at him in 2012.

Apart from being known for his encounters, Anwar has also been accused of being involved in land grabbing in District Malir and Gadap.

Furthermore, since Allah Dino Khawaja has been appointed as Sindh IGP, multiple attempts were made to remove him from Malir. However each time, the incumbent IG failed to remove him from the post of Malir SSP.

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