LONDON: Former accountability adviser in the PTI government, Shahzad Akbar was attacked by a masked individual at his home in Hertfordshire on Sunday evening.

Mr Akbar has been living in self-imposed exile in the United Kingdom since he left Pakistan in April 2022, and alleges that security agencies are harassing him to give evidence against ex-premier and PTI Chairman Imran Khan in the Al Qadir Trust case. He is currently working as an in-house lawyer for a private firm in the UK.

Speaking to Dawn, Mr Akbar linked the attack to the Al Qadir Trust case and said his brother was also picked up in Islamabad to put pressure on him for a ‘forced statement’.

In a statement posted to X, the ex-adviser said, “Last evening I was attacked at my address in England (where I am living in exile with my family) by unknown assailant/s who threw acidic liquid at me. Thankfully my wife and children are safe, however I got some injuries but nothing life-threatening. Police and emergency services arrived instantly and house being protected now. I will not be intimidated nor bow down to those who are doing this.”

He later told Dawn that the individual who rang his doorbell and threw the “acidic liquid” at him was of medium height and build and was wearing a red jacket and biker helmet to conceal their identity.

Mr Akbar said he was injured on the face and head, and that he went to a local hospital’s burn unit to be treated and bandaged.

He said a police case has been filed and that his clothing and spectacles have been taken by the police as evidence. “I have been sent messages in recent months by people who are clearly not happy with me. I’ve been told to mend my ways or else…”

He maintained silence when he left Pakistan for the UK for over a year, but in recent months launched a YouTube channel where he talks about accountability in Pakistan.

Hertfordshire police in a statement to Dawn said, “Police were contacted by the ambulance service just before 4.45pm yesterday (Sunday 26 November) to reports of an assault in Royston. It is believed an acidic solution was used. A 44-year-old man received hospital treatment and has now been discharged. Safety of any victim is paramount and we believe this is an isolated incident. Active enquiries are underway. Anyone who witnessed the incident or has any information which could assist with our investigation is asked to please contact police.”

Published in Dawn, November 28th, 2023

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