Former Supreme Court Bar Association president and senior lawyer Latif Afridi was killed during firing inside the Peshawar High Court (PHC) bar room on Monday, according to the police.
He was moved to the Peshawar Lady Reading Hospital immediately after the incident where he succumbed to his injuries during medical treatment, facility’s spokesperson Muhammad Asim said.
Meanwhile, Senior Superintendent of Police Kashif Abbassi told Dawn.com that Afridi was sitting with other lawyers in the PHC bar room when a gunman opened fire at him.
“The police have arrested the accused and identified him as Adnan Afridi,” the officer said, revealing that the attacker was related to Afridi.
He told Dawn.com that a small weapon, an identity card and a student card have been recovered from the attacker.
Abbassi further said that the police suspected the attack was carried out because of “personal enmity”.
The attacker’s cousin Aftab Afridi — an anti-terrorism judge in Swat — was killed in a firing incident last year. Latif Afridi and his family members were nominated in the case but were later acquitted by an anti-terrorism court in Swabi.
On the other hand, the Peshawar High Court Bar Association termed the incident a “security lapse” and questioned how a man with a weapon managed to reach the bar room.
It is pertinent to mention that the PHC bar room is located inside the premises of the high court. Tight security is regularly deployed at the entrance of the PHC and people are only allowed to enter upon showing their identity cards.
Condolences and condemnations
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif expressed deep sorrow and grief over the “brutal killing” of the senior lawyer.
“I pray that the bereaved family bear this loss with fortitude. The worsening law and order situation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is alarming,” the PM noted, adding that the provincial government should take immediate measures in this regard.
Former president Asif Ali Zardari condemned the murder of Afridi and said he was a strong supporter of democracy and a staunch opponent of extremism.
“The killing of martyr Abdul Latif Afridi is very unfortunate,” the PPP leader said in a tweet.
Meanwhile, former SBCA president Ahsan Bhoon expressed shock at the murder of the senior lawyer and said Afridi had always raised his voice for people deprived of rights.
“He was a part of the students union in his young days and later he joined the ANP,” Bhoon said in an interview with Geo News, adding that the slain lawyer had also suffered tough times during martial law in ex-dictator Ayub Khan’s tenure.
The ex-SCBA president said Afridi was a strong advocate of democracy. “He resisted all anti-democratic forces throughout his life.”
The Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) and the KP Bar Council also condemned Afridi’s killing in strong words and announced a strike on Tuesday (tomorrow).
In a press release, LHCBA President Sardar Akbar Ali Dogar and Vice President Sohail Shafiq Chaudhry said lawyers were not even safe inside the courts and bar rooms.
They also asked the government to ensure protection for the lives of lawyers.
Separately, the Lahore Bar Association (LBA) also condemned the incident in a press release. LBA President Rana Intezar Hussain said terrorism had gripped the country again and lawyers were being frequently targeted.
Meanwhile, journalist Asma Shirazi asked who was responsible for the attack on the senior lawyer.
Additional reporting by Rana Bilal.