- Photo by AFP

KARACHI: A Sindh High Court lawyer, who had been receiving death threats allegedly for pursuing the cases of missing persons, was killed on Wednesday evening in a gun attack on his vehicle on New M.A. Jinnah Road.

Police said Advocate Maqboolur Rehman, 45, was crossing People’s Chowrangi in his double-cabin vehicle along with his driver Yousaf, 30, when they were targeted by armed men riding two motorbikes.

Wednesday’s was the year’s first killing of an advocate in the city, while around 20 lawyers, including 15 in Karachi alone, were killed in the province last year.

According to lawyers, Mr Rehman had been receiving death threats for the last couple of years. They said he was appearing in the high court on behalf of petitioners in a number of cases pertaining to missing persons.

Gulshan Division SP Salam Shaikh said that the advocate was reportedly targeted by four men riding two motorcycles.

“The advocate suffered at least six bullet wounds in the chest and abdomen while his driver was also wounded in the attack.”

The assailants managed to escape.

Both the wounded persons were rushed to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, where the lawyer was pronounced dead on arrival while his driver was admitted for treatment.

Police investigators later collected several spent bullet casings of 9mm and 30-bore pistols from the crime-scene.

Due to security reasons, Advocate Rehman’s body was taken to his brother’s residence in Qayyumabad. The victim lived in Gulistan-i-Jauhar.

Protection The slain advocate had filed a petition in the Sindh High Court seeking security as he had expressed fear for his life, according to the lawyers.

It was on November 2, 2011 that the high court directed the home department, police chief and other police high-ups to ensure full protection and security to the advocate.

In his petition, Mr Rehman stated had that he was pursuing cases of missing persons, therefore, intimidation, harassment and threats were being extended to him in order to stop him from appearing in court in such cases.

Some people were chasing him on his way to office and home due to which was he unable to open his office and perform professional duties, the petitioner had maintained.

Besides the high court and bar associations, the assassinated lawyer belonging to the Hazara division had also informed the police and other relevant authorities about the death threats he had been receiving and had sought security, said a junior colleague of the slain lawyer.

Cases

Speaking to Dawn, a senior police officer associated with the investigation of the targeted killing said that apart from pursuing the cases of missing persons, Advocate Rehman was also handling cases of some outlawed outfits. One of the cases related to the killing of two scouts on the 1st of Muharram, the officer said.

Karachi Bar Association President Mohammad Aqil condemned the killing of the advocate and demanded immediate arrest of the killers.

He said targeted killing claimed the life of as many as 15 lawyers in the city and at least five advocates in the interior of Sindh last year.

Most of these killings took place when the members of the legal fraternity were either heading to work or were returning home from workplace.

Lawyers’ strike tomorrow

Representatives of the legal fraternity strongly condemned the murder of Advocate Rehman and announced that the lawyers would boycott legal proceedings at the city courts and the district courts of Malir on Friday.

Former KBA president Mahmoodul Hasan condemned the killing and said the government had failed to give protection to the members of the legal community as they were frequently being targeted.

He announced that lawyers would observe a strike on Friday at the city courts and hold a condolence meeting at the KBA building.

Malir Bar Association General Secretary Khalid Mahmood also condemned the murder and decided to observe boycott of legal proceedings at the district courts of Malir on Friday.

Condemning the killing, Sindh Bar Council Vice Chairman Iftikhar Javed Qazi said that the government must fulfil its responsibility and take measures to stop the targeted killing of lawyers.

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