PESHAWAR/ISLAMABAD: Senior lawyer and former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Abdul Latif Afridi was Monday shot dead in the Peshawar High Court (PHC) bar room.
Police said the accused, who managed his entry into the bar room as a junior lawyer, was arrested on the spot. Latif Afridi, 79, was a well-known lawyer as well as a senior politician who also remained a member of the National Assembly.
Officials said the seasoned lawyer was present in the bar room with other colleagues when a young lawyer entered the hall and fired multiple shots at him.
Colleagues said Latif Lala received six bullets and was rushed to the nearby Lady Reading Hospital in a critical condition where he succumbed to his injuries. His funeral prayer will be offered today (Tuesday). In a number of footages, the police could be seen arresting a man from the spot with his face covered.
“The accused, Adnan Afridi, is being interrogated about the incident,” Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Muhammad Ijaz Khan told The News. Another police official said the accused told the interrogation team that he had brought a loaded pistol from home to kill the seasoned lawyer.
He said the accused had recently completed a law degree from a local college. Reports said his father Samiullah Afridi Advocate was killed a few years back. Police officials said they were investigating the case from all angles including the old enmity of the deceased.
Deceased Latif Afridi was also nominated in the murder case of a senior judge Aftab Afridi and his family members on the Motorway a couple of years back but he was later released on bail. Latif Afridi remained associated with the Awami National Party and National Democratic Movement holding senior positions.
As a senior lawyer, he remained president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Peshawar High Court Bar Association and vice-chairman of the Pakistan Bar Council.
Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif while condemning the cold-blooded murder of Latif Lala expressed concern over the deteriorating law and order situation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Awami National Party President Asfandyar Wali Khan, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl Chief Maulana Fazlur Rahman, PMLN leader Maryam Nawaz, KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and other top leaders condemned the murder.
A large number of people who remained close to him praised Latif Lala on the social media as a brave voice for the voiceless people who earned huge respect as a politician, lawyer and a rights activist.
“The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan is shocked to learn of the assassination of senior lawyer Abdul Latif Afridi on the premises of the Peshawar High Court earlier today. His death is an immense loss to human rights defenders everywhere,” said a statement.
“Latif Afridi was the voice of reason in the court-rooms of the Peshawar High Court,” said Barrister Asadul Mulk. Meanwhile, the legal fraternity condemned the murder of Abdul Latif Afridi and called for a nationwide strike, across the country and requested the lawyers to boycott he court proceedings on Tuesday (today) as an act of solidarity with Latif Afridi.
In a statement, President Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Abid S. Zuberi and Secretary Muqtedir Akhtar Shabbir expressed shock over the brutal murder of Latif Afridi.
They said the incident was one of numerous recent incidents wherein lawyers had been targeted and killed. “Incidents such as the killing of the former president of Faisalabad District Bar Association Naveed Mukhtar Ghuman and of Advocate Sheikh Imran in Rawalpindi are result of the failure of law enforcement agencies to provide adequate protection to members of the legal fraternity.
We are of the opinion that simple words of condemnation are no longer sufficient and we demand that the government and law enforcement agencies should take concrete steps to ensure that the members of the legal fraternity can engage in their practices free from the fear of being targeted and / or killed”, they said and demanded a judicial inquiry into the said incident.
Hafeez-ur-Rehman Chaudhry, Vice-Chairman, Pir Muhammad Masood Chishti, Chairman, Executive Committee and Members of the Pakistan Bar Council also condemned the target killing of Latif Afridi.
In a separate statement, they expressed serious concern over the failure of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, KP police and law-enforcement agencies in providing security to the courts and lawyers. “The Pakistan Bar Council demands the government to make security arrangements in and around the court premises”, they said, adding that Latif Afridi enjoyed important offices of the bar.
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