Retired cop Rao Anwar, who was suspended from service amid a criminal investigation into alleged extra-judicial killings on his orders, claimed on Thursday that U.S. sanctions against him over human rights abuses were an attempt to “defame” Pakistan.
In a video message widely shared on Twitter, Anwar said the U.S. had not right to accuse him of any wrongdoing. “A superpower like the U.S. has accused me and my country of wrongdoing,” he said. “I was an officer of the police force, and we fight terrorists. The 400-500 terrorists [we killed] have never forwarded any complaints [or claimed] that I killed someone for greed or in a fake encounter,” he said, in a blatantly false assertion, as the extrajudicial killing of Waziristan-native Naqeebullah Mehsud was found to be illegal, and his suspension was prompted by a complaint against his staged encounter. In March 2018, he was placed under arrest but has since been released on bail. The criminal investigation into the case is ongoing.
In the video, Anwar says that he has now been out of service for over two years, but still no new complaints have emerged against him. He said that he would take the matter to court through his lawyers in Washington and if the U.S. could not prove its allegations against him, it would have to apologize for blacklisting him.
“Even if one complainant comes forward with the allegation that I was in league with criminals and crooks, then I am prepared to face the consequences not only in the U.S., but here in Pakistan,” he said. “In fact, I should be gunned down in the middle of a street if I am found to be in league with criminals,” he added.
Anwar said that in addition to securing counsel to argue his case in Washington, he would also contact the U.S. embassy for an apology. He went on to claim that the blacklist was damaging the image of Pakistan and was diverting attention away from the plight of the residents of Kashmir—a common talking point of the incumbent Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government whenever the opposition registers a protest or resists any of its actions.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury on Tuesday sanctioned Anwar for engaging in “serious human rights abuse” through the use of alleged fake police encounters that had resulted in the deaths of over 400 people. “During his tenure as the Senior Superintendent of Police in District Malir, Pakistan, Rao Anwar Khan was reportedly responsible for staging numerous fake police encounters in which individuals were killed by police,” the U.S. said in a statement accompanying the sanctioning. “He was involved in over 190 police encounters that resulted in the deaths of over 400 people, including the murder of Naqeebullah Mehsud. Anwar helped to lead a network of police and criminal thugs that were allegedly responsible for murder,” the statement added.