PESHAWAR: Advocate Samiullah Afridi, a former counsel of Dr Shakil Afridi, was shot dead here on Tuesday.

Samiullah Afridi, a former secretary general of the Fata Lawyers Forum, who had advocated the cause of judicial reforms in tribal areas, had withdrawn from the Shakil Afridi case in last May after receiving threats from unidentified people.

“Two men on a motorcycle opened fire on Mr Samiullah who was travelling alone in his car near Bashir Bagh Aslam Dehri, killing him on the spot” said SSP (operations) Dr Mian Saeed.

He told Dawn that the attackers had fired four shots on the lawyer and the bullets hit him in the chest and abdomen. He said that it was early to determine the motive behind the murder.

Two militant organisations have accepted responsibility for the killing. Fahd Marwat, a spokesperson for the outlawed Jandullah, claimed in calls made to some reporters and he was followed by Ahsanullah Ahsan of the Jamaatul Ahrar who said his organisation had carried out the attack on Samiullah because he had defended in the court Shakil Afridi who, according to him, was responsible for the death of Osama bin Laden.

Samiullah, who was around 55, was taken to the Lady Reading Hospital where he was pronounced dead. His body was shifted to a mortuary for autopsy.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bar Council has condemned the killing and called upon lawyers to boycott court proceedings in the province on Wednesday.

“Mr Samiullah was an outspoken critic of the judicial system in vogue in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and had struggled for introducing reforms there,” said Mohammad Ijaz Mohmand, president of the Fata Lawyers Forum. With his death, he added, they had lost a dedicated associate who had always struggled for the rights of tribal people.

Dr Shakil Afridi was convicted by the assistant political agent of Bara in May 2012 of having links with an outlawed militant organisation and a panel of lawyers has since been representing him at different forums, including the Fata tribunal and FCR commissioner.

Initially Mr Samiullah was a member of the panel and he vigorously pursued the case. But in Dec 2013 he went to the UAE because of threats to his life and family. He returned after about three months and announced on May 10, 2014 that he had quit Dr Shakil Afridi case, citing threats from unidentified people and the pressure exerted by the US government on Pakistan for the release of Dr Shakil Afridi as reasons for his decision.

He had told Dawn that he had frequently been receiving threatening phone calls and he was being asked by visitors to withdraw from the case. He had claimed that two days before his decision to quit the case, two men had called on him and given him ‘final warning’.

In the past he had sold his car and started using rickshaw after receiving a threat that a magnet bomb would be attached to the car.

He had stated that he had been contesting the Shakil Afridi case on humanitarian grounds because they belonged to the same area. He said his family life had been disturbed and he had been pressurised by his family not to continue with the case.

He also took up cases of missing persons as well as those under the FCR.

Sources close to Mr Samiullah said that recently he had increased his mobility and appeared satisfied thinking that the threat to his life had subsided.

Published in Dawn March 18th , 2015

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