LAHORE: Gunshots were fired at the Model Town residence of Supreme Court judge Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan twice within the span of a few hours on Sunday, prompting the chief justice to rush to the house and order a thorough investigation into the incident.
The H-Block area where the firing took place is a high security zone as it also houses Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s residence, according to provincial Law Minister Rana Sanaullah.
As the news of the firing broke in the morning, Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar rushed to Justice Ahsan’s house and ordered the Punjab police to carry out a prompt and thorough investigation into the occurrence.
Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif also took notice of the incident and ordered immediate arrest of the attackers.
According to an FIR registered on the complaint of a police guard posted at Justice Ahsan’s private residence, the first incident of firing was reported at midnight, followed by the other at around 9am on Sunday.
The guard said he heard a gunshot near the main gate of the house at midnight and reached the spot along with a soldier of the Pakistan Rangers, who was also deployed for security duty at the house, and found a spent bullet casing. He said they noticed a bullet hole in the gate. Later at around 9am, he again heard a gunshot and this time recovered a spent bullet casing from the courtyard of the house.
CJP orders police investigation, Punjab govt forms JIT
In his complaint, the guard said he was certain that the firing had been carried out to harass the occupants of the house and that it had created panic in the surrounding area. However, he said, he did not notice movement of any individual or vehicle at the time of both strikes.
Justice Ahsan was part of the five-member SC bench which decided the Panama Papers case leading to the removal of the former premier Nawaz Sharif last year. He is also overseeing court proceedings in the National Accountability Bureau references against the Sharif family members and former finance minister Ishaq Dar.
The judge was also part of the SC bench which ruled that an individual disqualified under Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution could not serve as head of a political party, leading to Nawaz Sharif losing his position as the chief of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.
Police said they found a 9mm pistol bullet casing on the ground close to the main gate and another near the kitchen.
The Punjab Forensic Science Agency (PFSA), Crime Scene Unit, Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) and other law-enforcement agencies visited the spot and collected forensic evidence, digital evidence (CCTV footage) and recorded statements of witnesses.
The ballistic experts (who measure the distance from where the bullet is fired) were called to determine the nature of the firing. The investigators also planned to conduct geo-fencing of the area at the time of both incidents.
Lahore Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) retired captain Amin Wains told Dawn that the police were investigating whether it was a targeted attack or firing into the air, as ballistic experts were called to determine the nature of the firing.
He said they had collected forensic evidence from the crime scene and sent it to laboratory for examination. However, he said, he could comment on the incident only after getting the PFSA director general’s report which would conclude the nature of the incident.
He quoted the security guards as saying that when they heard the first gunshots at midnight, they informed their senior officials. Subsequently, he added, deployment around the house was enhanced.
Later in the morning, Personal Staff Officer (PSO) to Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif visited the house of Justice Ahsan to inquire about the incident but he was not allowed to meet him.
Earlier, in an immediate response to the firing incident, all the bar associations and councils gave a call for strike of lawyers on Monday but later withdrew the call on a request of the chief justice.
Meanwhile, the case was registered under Sections 324, 427 of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and 7 of Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) against unidentified suspects for twice opening fire on the house of Justice Ahsan.
The Punjab government later formed a five-member Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to investigate the incident. Additional IGP (Welfare & Finance) Mohammed Tahir will be the JIT convener while DIG Investigations Sultan Chaudhry, representatives of ISI, MI and IB/SB will be its members. The team may also call a member of the PFSA to seek his assistance in the probe.
Published in Dawn, April 16th, 2018