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Editorial | ATC Judge And Family’s Gruesome Murder Should Serve As Wake-Up Call

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The murder of Swat anti-terrorism court judge Aftab Afridi in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) along with his wife, pregnant daughter-in-law and a three-year-old grandson is a gruesome act of terror. The slain judge and his family were travelling from Peshawar to Islamabad via Swabi when unknown attackers opened fire at their car. Two members of the judge’s convoy were wounded in the attack. Police have termed the incident a targeted attack.

The incident comes amid the reports of regrouping of militants in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) that the authorities seemed to have ignored. Activists from former FATA had repeatedly warned the government to act against the militants who were returning to Pakistan’s tribal areas. Pakistan’s claims of having defeated terrorism hold no value if targeted attacks like these continue to take place.

Meanwhile, the slain judge’s brother has said that the attack may be a result of personal enmity. He went on to name Supreme Court Bar Association President Latif Afridi in the FIR among others. There was apparently a row going on between Latif Afridi and Aftab Afridi, which is being termed as a reason for the former’s inclusion in the FIR. The SCBA president has strongly denied the charges while vowing to cooperate with the authorities in nabbing the perpetrators.

Incidents of terror in Pakistan are often brushed under the carpet after being downplayed as ‘personal enmity’. The government must therefore carry out a thorough inquiry into the cold blooded murder despite the family’s statement. As a judge of an anti-terrorism court, Aftab Afridi may have been a target of militants whose cases he had heard. The incident reminds one of the 2014 attack on a court in Islamabad where several people including additional session’s judge Rafaqat Awan were killed. Earlier in 2012, a Quetta judge Zulfikar Naqvi was killed in what was described as a sectarian attack.

Due to lack of judges/witnesses protection measures, the safety and anonymity of judges is not ensured and it makes them an easy target for rogue elements. Apart from catching the murderers of Judge Aftab Alam, the state must work towards protecting judges and witnesses involved in sensitive cases. It is also time for the authorities to address the issue of regrouping of terrorists in KP.

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Naya Daur