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EDITORIAL: In a shocking incident on Monday one of this country’s most respected lawyers, Abdul Latif Afridi, was shot dead as he sat along with colleagues in the bar room of the Peshawar High Court. According to the police, the assailant, a young lawyer by the name of Adnan Samiullah Afridi, was arrested on the spot and confessed to have committed the murder claiming a family feud.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bar Council announced a three-day mourning for the departed soul and also to observe, together with the Supreme Court Bar Association (he was a former president of both forums) and the Pakistan Bar Council, a country-wide strike on Tuesday to protest at the ease with which the suspect managed to sneak in a weapon inside the court premises.

Latif Afridi, Lala to friends and Comrade Latif to legions of admirers, had a lifelong commitment to progressive causes as a political activist. Starting off as a student leader he aligned himself with left-wing parties, joining and quitting different political parties. Hailing from Bara tehsil of the tribal Khyber district, and elected as member of the National Assembly in 1997— following the introduction of adult franchises in the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas— Afridi could easily empathise with the prevailing sentiments that gave rise to the PTM (Pashtoon Tahafuz Movement). But he never subscribed to narrow nationalism, fighting instead for the rights of the oppressed communities all over the country. He used his professional career to defend the rights of workers and peasants, and was a tireless campaigner against enforced disappearances.

A true democrat he was always in the vanguard of struggle against military dictatorships, and spent several years in jail for opposing Gen Ziaul Haq’s tyrannical rule. He was also a vociferous critic of religious bigotry and violent extremism. His last public speech was against resurgence of TTP (Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan) terrorists and their facilitators. Those who have known Afridi remember him as a passionate humanist who was ever ready to help people in distress. His passing has left behind a vacuum that few can fill. Comrade Latif will long be missed by all who want to see this country advance as a progressive democratic state where all citizens have equal rights and opportunities for personal development.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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