Rao Anwar

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Rao Anwar
Rao Anwar.PNG
Anwar in 2017
Native name
راؤ انوار
Police career
DepartmentSindh Police
Service years37
RankSenior Superintendent

Rao Anwar Ahmed Khan (Urdu: راؤ انوار احمد خان‎) is a Pakistani retired police officer, who served as Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) in the Malir District of Karachi.[2][3] He is known as the "encounter specialist" of the Sindh Police and has been accused of conducting extrajudicial encounter killings.[4] He carried out at least 444 killings in alleged encounters between 2011 and 2018.[5][6] After the killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud, Anwar was suspended from his post on January 20, 2018.[7][8]


Anwar was initially recruited as assistant sub-inspector of police (ASI) in 1982 after working as a clerk for a year.[9] From 1992 to 1999, Anwar played a main role in the operations against the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) in Karachi, in which many MQM members were either arrested or killed. When MQM came into power in 2002 during the Pervez Musharraf government, Anwar disappeared from Karachi.

When the Pakistan Peoples Party came into power in 2008, Anwar returned to Karachi.[10] He was promoted from inspector to deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Kiamari and then to superintendent of police (SP) Gadap within a short space of time in 2008. He was considered close to the former President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari.[11] Anwar became senior superintendent of police (SSP) Malir in 2011.

In 2012, he was demoted to the sub-inspector rank by a Supreme Court order but the President Asif Ali Zardari reinstated him as SSP Malir using his executive powers. In 2013, Anwar was temporarily suspended by the Supreme Court following the deadly Abbas Town bombing.[12] In 2015, he was briefly suspended for "misusing authority" because of his controversial press conference, in which he alleged that MQM sent its workers to India to get them trained by the Indian intelligence agency RAW for spreading terror in Pakistan.[13] The MQM activist Tahir Lamba, who had been arrested by Anwar before the press conference and accused of being a RAW agent, was released by the court later due to lack of evidence.[14]

In September 2016, Anwar was suspended for raiding the house of the MQM leader Khawaja Izharul Hassan and detaining him without the permission of the Sindh Assembly speaker. Anwar challenged the suspension order in court and was reinstated a few weeks later.[15]

On 13 January 2018, Anwar led a police operation that led to Naqeebullah Mehsud and three others being shot dead in Shah Latif town. Anwar said they were members of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan. On 19 January, Anwar appeared before a departmental inquiry committee to give a statement. He claimed one member of the committee was biased and forced police personnel to record false statements about him. On 20 January, the committee declared that Mehsud was innocent and had been wrongfully killed and Anwar was dismissed from the police.

On 22 January, Anwar refused to appear before the committee for a second time, calling the inquiry ‘one-sided’. He claimed he was neither responsible for the investigation nor the capture of Mehsud. Anwar tried to flee Pakistan via Benazir Bhutto International Airport in Islamabad on 23 January. His name was added to the Exit Control List and a First Information Report was lodged against him. Anwar demanded the formation of a ‘Joint Investigative Team’ from intelligence agencies and called the case against him ‘baseless’.

On 27 January, the Supreme Court issued a three-day deadline to the Sindh Police Department for Anwar's arrest, saying cell-phone positioning evidence confirmed Anwar's presence at the site of the encounter killing.[16][17] On 31 January, Anwar refuted reports he had left the country after police so far failed to arrest him. On 3 March, his accounts at the State Bank of Pakistan were frozen on the orders of the Supreme Court, which made the judgement in a 16 February hearing for contempt of court.[18]

On 17 February, Asif Ali Zardari, former President of Pakistan, voiced support for Anwar calling him a ‘brave child’ for surviving the fight against the Muttahida Qaumi Movement. Zardari later said he ‘misspoke’.[19][20] On 21 March 2018, he was arrested after appearing before the Supreme Court.[21]

Anwar took retirement on 1 January 2019 while facing trial under suspension.[2] Apart from his controversial police encounters, Anwar has also been notorious for being involved in land grabbing and gravel and sand mining in the Malir and Gadap areas of Karachi.[12][22]

Personal life[edit]

Anwar has two wives and seven children. His family lives in Dubai in the UAE, but they visit Islamabad sometimes, especially during vacations.[11] He had made 74 trips to Dubai since his appointment as SSP Malir until his removal from the job, that is about one trip per a month on average.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "SSP Rao Anwar retires from Police department: source". www.thenews.com.pk. Retrieved 2019-01-23.
  2. ^ a b Reporter, The Newspaper's Staff (2019-01-02). "Rao Anwar retires from police". DAWN.COM. Retrieved 2019-01-23.
  3. ^ "Rao Anwar's plea for removal of name from ECL rejected". 2019-01-11. Retrieved 2019-02-12.
  4. ^ "Rao Anwar: Super cop, encounter specialist or political pawn?". The Express Tribune. 2019-01-01. Retrieved 2019-01-23.
  5. ^ "444 suspects killed in encounters led by Rao Anwar: report". The News International. January 26, 2018. Retrieved December 26, 2018.
  6. ^ "Pakistan's youth seek justice for Naqeebullah Mehsud". Al Jazeera. February 7, 2018. Retrieved December 26, 2018.
  7. ^ "Pakistan police killing of a Pashtun youth fuels anger over 'encounters'". Reuters. January 27, 2018. Retrieved December 26, 2018.
  8. ^ "Rao Anwar removed as SSP Malir over involvement in alleged extrajudicial killing". DAWN. January 20, 2018. Retrieved December 26, 2018.
  9. ^ "Rao Anwar retires from police service". The Express Tribune. January 1, 2019. Retrieved January 1, 2019.
  10. ^ "The rowdy Rao Anwar". Herald. March 20, 2018. Retrieved December 26, 2018.
  11. ^ a b "Rao Anwar shifts family to unknown location". The Nation. 2018-01-24. Retrieved 2019-01-23.
  12. ^ a b "Rao Anwar, the cop who 'encountered' Malir". The Express Tribune. January 22, 2018. Retrieved December 26, 2018.
  13. ^ "Sindh IG transfers SSP Malir for 'misusing' authority". DAWN. May 1, 2015. Retrieved December 26, 2018.
  14. ^ "Three suspected RAW agents acquitted for lack of evidence". DAWN. October 23, 2016. Retrieved December 26, 2018.
  15. ^ "Rao Anwar reinstated as SSP Malir on Sindh CM's order, says IG Khowaja". DAWN. January 6, 2017. Retrieved December 26, 2018.
  16. ^ Ahmad, Meher (22 April 2018). "The Slain 'Militant' Was a Model, and a Karachi Police Commander Is Out" – via NYTimes.com.
  17. ^ "A timeline of Naqeebullah Mehsud's murder case". www.geo.tv.
  18. ^ "Rao Anwar's bank accounts frozen on SC orders". www.geo.tv.
  19. ^ "Rao Anwar is the 'brave child' who survived fight against MQM: Zardari". www.geo.tv.
  20. ^ "Zardari takes his words back - Daily Times". 18 February 2018.
  21. ^ Bhatti, Haseeb (21 March 2018). "Rao Anwar arrested after finally appearing before SC in Naqeebullah murder case". Dawn.com.
  22. ^ a b Ali, Nazia Syed; Zaman, Fahim (2018-02-16). "Rao Anwar and the killing fields of Karachi". DAWN.COM. Retrieved 2019-01-23.