A veteran policeman, Rao Anwar, who is accused of staging fake encounters, has surrendered to the country's Supreme Court after two months on the run.

People rally to condemn the killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud, a 27-year-old aspiring model, in Karachi, Pakistan, February 9, 2018.
People rally to condemn the killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud, a 27-year-old aspiring model, in Karachi, Pakistan, February 9, 2018. (AP)

Pakistani authorities on Wednesday arrested a police officer, Rao Anwar, who is accused of killing a 27-year-old man in an allegedly "staged" shootout.

The officer had gone in hiding after a probe into the January 13 killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud, an aspiring fashion model from the country's Mehsud tribe, found that he had committed no crime. 

On Wednesday, Anwar voluntarily appeared before the Supreme Court and sought bail, a request which was denied.

"Take Rao Anwar into custody," Chief Justice Saqib Nisar ordered police after Anwar appeared in court, the English-language Dawn newspaper said.

"Rao Anwar presented himself through a lawyer in the court ... and the court directed that he should be taken into custody," said Faisal Siddiqui, a lawyer for Mohammad Khan Mehsud, the father of the victim.

Television channels earlier broadcast images of Anwar, wearing a surgical mask and flanked by policemen from the Anti-Terrorist Squad, walking into the Supreme Court without handcuffs.

Anwar, senior superintendent of police in the port city of Karachi, was suspended on January 20 after four men were killed in a shoot-out with police.

Protests over police treatment

The killing in the port city of Karachi sparked outrage on the part of Pakistan's tribal communities, which have long complained of heavy-handed treatment at the hands of security forces.

Thousands of people from the tribal communities took to the streets after Mehsud's killing, demanding the officer's arrest. Pakistani authorities have vowed to take action.

Police initially said the men were suspected militants but later suggested the incident may have been an extrajudicial killing.

Anwar gained prominence in recent years after several shootouts with alleged militants in which neither him nor any of his team members were hurt. 

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has said that Anwar was involved in at least 192 raids in which 444 people were killed.

Investigation of Mehsud's killing

Anwar's arrest came after Facebook photographs of alleged militant suspect Mehsud, posing with long-flowing hair in trendy clothes for amateur fashion photo shoots, cast doubt on police claims that he was a militant.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the formation of a team led by police officers, to investigate the killing of Mehsud. It has also unfrozen Anwar's bank accounts to ensure his children do not struggle financially, Dawn said.

Since Mehsud's killing, the issue of "police encounters", a euphemism for extrajudicial killings, has gained media coverage amid growing anger from the Pashtun community, which says its young men are unfairly and disproportionately targeted.

Police data from 2011 reviewed by Reuters shows that at least 450 people have been killed in 200 clashes with police that involved weapons, during the seven years Anwar has been in charge of Karachi’s Malir district.

The data does not detail the circumstances of the shootings, but the district has a large Pashtun population.

In January, Anwar told Reuters he had done nothing wrong, saying the investigation into his officers’ actions could allow the Pakistani Taliban militants to regain a foothold in ethnic Pashtun parts of Karachi.

"I had no knowledge of Naqeebullah Mehsud," Anwar said at the time. "My staff told me that he is a militant with a criminal history." 

Source: TRTWorld and agencies