ISLAMABAD - The Rangers who raided the residence of The Nation’s Resident Editor Salman Masood, in Islamabad, yesterday morning knew where they exactly wanted to go for the house search, contrary to the claims of the authorities that it was a routine search operation.

Around six Rangers officials, aided by local police and intelligence operatives, entered the house of the resident editor for what they termed a routine search operation against terrorism. However, the security in-charge at Emmar revealed the law-enforcing agencies, led by Rangers, told them they wanted to search two houses in the locality. “One of them was the house of The Nation resident editor,” Col (r) Asghar, security in-charge at Emmar, told The Nation. The officials arrived at the entry point of the housing scheme without any documents or warrants and said a terrorist search operation is under way and they wanted to check two houses in the locality. “The security staff immediately contacted me and I let them go inside,” he added. He said the raiding party, accompanied by lady police, also searched another house in the locality.

Salman Masood said that another house was also searched in the neighbourhood, but the possibility that it was a cover-up cannot be precluded. He said it was hard to escape the conclusion the whole incident was a case of harassment. “A man in civilian clothes came and rang the bell of the house again and again. He claimed he worked for an intelligence agency. There were around six Rangers personnel with him. They said they wanted to search the house for terrorists. I told them they could not do so without warrants or some proper documents. They stood outside the house and said they would not leave without searching the house. I called SP (Rural) Islamabad on his cell phone. The police officer there told me it was a routine search operation,” Salman Masood said. “The officials searched the drawers of my study table and asked if I had any illegal weapons hidden in the house,” he added.

“I allowed them to search the house. They were aggressive in mood and searched all cupboards and drawers in different rooms. They left after searching the house to find out ‘terrorists and weapons’. They, however, did not mind when I took their photographs. They asked me if I had an illegal weapon. I told them if I don’t have a legal weapon, why I shall keep an illegal one,” Masood said.

Salman Masood who is also Pakistan Correspondent of New York Times is the second high-profile NYT journalist targeted in the recent times. Declan Walsh, the then NYT bureau chief, was blacklisted in 2013 and asked to leave Pakistan. It was Walsh’s report in NYT last year that unveiled the multi-million dollars fake degree scam of Axact.

Earlier, Salman Masood posted pictures on Twitter, showing several Rangers personnel at his home. A man in civvies with them said that he was from intelligence, but did not give more identification.

However, police officials claimed that a “terrorist search operation” was under way in the area and search of the editor’s house was due to a misunderstanding. Islamabad SSP Sajid Kiani said the raid was in connection with the ongoing campaign against terrorists. He termed the incident result of a misunderstanding and also apologised for the inconvenience caused to the editor.

A senior official of the Interior Ministry apologised for the incident and said an investigation had been ordered by Ch Nisar Ali Khan.

On the other hand, the contingents of Islamabad police and Pakistan Rangers on Monday night conducted a search operation in various areas of Sihala and Loi Bher and nabbed 25 suspects. According to a police spokesman, the search operation was conducted in the areas of Dhok Awan, Rajwal, Sheikhpur, PWD, Swan Garden, Tumer Sheikhpur and Khasot. The operation was headed by SP (Rural) Syed Mustafa Tanveer, SDPO (Rural) and SHOs of Sihala and Loi Bher police stations. Police searched a total of 300 houses and nabbed 25 suspects while weapons were also recovered from them.