The notorious former police officer Rao Anwar is once again in the spotlight and the implications could be serious. The United States has blacklisted Anwar, among eighteen individuals worldwide, for human rights violations and imposed economic sanctions upon them.
According to a statement by the US Treasury Department, Rao Anwar was responsible for staging numerous fake police encounters in which several individuals were killed. It stated that he led a network of police and criminal thugs that were allegedly responsible for extortion, land grabbing, narcotics, and murder.
The Pakistan police officer has been designated as a perpetrator of serious human rights abuse.US has frozen Anwar’s assets along with other designated individuals and prohibited American citizens from doing any business with them. If the matter reaches the UN, then the state of Pakistan will also be forced to act and seize Anwar’s assets.
Rao Anwar was infamously known as an ‘encounter specialist’. As the former senior superintendent of police, Anwar was responsible for over 200 fake encounters resulting in the death of a staggering 444 people. The most high profile case which he is facing concerns the death of Naqeebullah Mehsud who was killed in a similar fake encounter in Karachi.
Rao Anwar seems unfazed over the blacklisting stating he would challenge the move by filing a case in Washington and also write a letter to the US embassy. In an audacious statement, he even demanded that US government either apologise or prove the allegations against him. He claims that the US included his name to divert attention from the situation in Indian occupied Kashmir.
In Pakistan Rao Anwar continues to enjoy patronage and was released on bail months after his arrest, as the murder trial of Naqeebullah drags on. Anwar was forced to quit the police force and will not return with his reign of terror. The killing also ended the passivity over the prevalence of extrajudicial killings in our society.
Naqeeb’s father, who campaigned to hold Rao Anwar accountable, passed away last month awaiting justice for his son. The US move to sanction Rao Anwar should propel the Pakistan government to expedite action against him as even rogue cops like Anwar should be held accountable and not get away with murders.