April 5th, 2021
By Asra Haque
The Supreme Court Bar Association has condemned the murder of anti-terrorism court (ATC) judge Aftab Afridi and his family, however at the same time the lawyers’ associations have demanded that the names of senior lawyer and President of the Supreme Court Bar Association Latif Afridi and his son Danish Afridi should be from the registered FIR.
A press release issued by the Supreme Court Bar stated that Latif Afridi has no involvement in this case as he and his son were surveying their properties on the evening of April 4, when the incident took place. Moreover, he strongly condemned the killing as attacking women and children is against Pashtun traditions.
Swat ATC judge Aftab Afridi’s car was ambushed by armed assailants at the Swabi Interchange on the night of April 4 while on his way to Islamabad with his family. The judge, his wife, daughter-in-law and 22-month-old grandson were killed in the attack whilst his driver and a guard were injured.
An FIR under section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), and PPC sections 302 (murder), 324 (attempted murder), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), 109 (abetment), 427 (mischief causing damage amounting to Rs. 50) 353 (Assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) and 34 (acts done by several persons In furtherance of common intention) has been lodged by the deceased judge’s son, Aftab Afridi. Danish and Jamal Afridi (the latter of whom is currently residing in Germany) have been nominated as the primary accused in the FIR while five others including Latif Afridi have been nominated for allegedly facilitating the murder.
According to the investigating officer (IO) in the case, no accused has been arrested so far and the plaintiff has not provided the license plate numbers of the vehicles in which the assailants fired from at the judge’s car. The IO further added that the statements of the injured driver and guard have been recorded, and that the incident was the result of an old enmity.
According to various sources, Latif Afridi and Aftab Afridi are distant relatives, however there were some differences between the two. This animosity escalated in 2015 when Aftab Afridi’s cousin Samiullah Afridi was murdered. An FIR was lodged against the militants affiliated with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as the slain lawyer was Dr. Shakeel Afridi’s counsel at the time. Some members of Samiullah’s family however accused Latif Afridi and his family were behind the murder although no proof of his involvement ever surfaced.
Shortly afterwards, a member of Latif Afridi’s family was assassinated and an FIR was lodged against Aftab Afridi and his family. The case though was withdrawn after a jirga intervened to reconcile both parties.
BAR COUNCILS RESPOND
Vice-Chair of the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) Khushdil Khan agreed that the judge’s assassination was a matter of great concern but Latif Afridi’s nomination in the FIR was a great shock as he knew both men to be relatively close, but a formal statement will be only issued once the PBC convenes. He further added that he will do his utmost to settle the matter amicably.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bar Council Vice-Chair Naeemuddin said that since Aftab Afridi was also an ATC judge, the police should investigate the murder from all angles rather than just dismiss it as an old enmity.