LHC’s Justice Najafi becomes latest target of ‘toxic letter’

In Local
April 05, 2024



LAHORE:

Lahore High Court’s (LHC) Justice Ali Baqar Najafi became the latest target on Friday of the suspicious ‘toxic letters’ received by superior members of the judiciary over the last few days.

The total number of LHC judges receiving the letter has now reached six. The letter received by Justice Najafi has been handed over to the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD).

Two days ago, eight judges, including Chief Justice Aamer Farooq of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) received letters containing an unknown powder, suspected to be laced with anthrax.

The incident, coming just a day after the Supreme Court of Pakistan initiated suo motu proceedings over allegations of the IHC’s chief justice and other judges against spy agencies, has heightened fears of intimidation and raised serious concerns about the safety and security of the judiciary.

Last week, six judges from the IHC voiced their concerns to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) regarding alleged interference by intelligence agencies in the court’s affairs, shining a spotlight on the delicate balance between judicial independence and external influence.

According to judicial sources, staff members of two judges discovered powder upon opening the letters, resulting in burning sensations in their eyes. Immediate action was taken, with affected individuals using sanitizer and washing their hands as a precautionary measure.

Confirming the receipt of the letters, IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq stated that the incident caused delays in the day’s hearings. Upon discovery of the suspicious powder, a team of experts from the Islamabad Police swiftly arrived at the IHC to examine the substance.

Read PTI wants a full-court on letter controversy

Sources close to the investigation revealed that the letters, which displayed signs of intimidation, were sent by a woman who did not disclose her address. Furthermore, the letters were addressed to multiple judges, intensifying concerns about the safety of the judiciary.

Authorities disclosed that the letters were purportedly authored by a woman named Resham, wife of Waqar Hussain, prompting urgent action by summoning the Inspector General of Islamabad Police and the Deputy Inspector General of Security to address the matter.

A day later, the letters containing the suspicious powdery toxic substance were sent to the Supreme Court jurists, including Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa, as well as those of the Lahore High Court.

The disclosure was made by Islamabad DIG (Operations) Shahzad Bukhari before IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq.

The DIG (Operations), summoned by the IHC CJ during the hearing of the cypher case, informed that four SC judges – CJP Isa, Justices Athar Minallah, Jamal Khan Mandokhail, and Aminuddin Khan – had received similar letters on April1.

Additionally, letters were also received by SC’s Justices Mansoor Ali Shah and Shahid Waheed posted by someone identifying themselves as Gulshad Khatun, according to sources.

The incidents moved Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to take notice. Addressing a cabinet meeting a day earlier, he said the government was investigating the matter.

“The government, with the sense of responsibility, will also probe this matter to uncover the reality,” the prime minister said.

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