Unknown gunmen opened fire at the residence of Justice Ijazul Ahsan in Lahore’s Model Town in two separate incidents only hours apart, on Sunday.
No casualties were reported in the attacks, one of which took place around 10:45pm on Saturday and the other at 9:10am on Sunday.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar visited the residence of Justice Ahsan and called the Punjab inspector general to probe the incidents. The chief justice is said to be overseeing the situation himself.
Justice Ahsan was part of the five-member bench that delivered the verdict in the high-profile Panamagate case last year, which led to the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif, the then prime minister.
He has been appointed as the monitoring judge to supervise and monitor the implementation of the Panamagate case verdict and is currently overseeing the ongoing proceedings by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and accountability courts against the Sharif family members and Ishaq Dar.
He was also part of the three-member bench hearing 17 petitions against the controversial Elections Act 2017. The bench had ruled that an individual disqualified under Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution cannot serve as head of a political party, leading to Nawaz Sharif losing his position as the chief of PML-N.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif took notice of the incident as well and ordered immediate arrests of the attackers. He also asked the Punjab inspector general (IG) to submit a report on the incident.
The personal secretary to Sharif, however, was refused a meeting with the Supreme Court judge by the SC administration.
Security personnel, including Rangers, have been deployed outside the residence of the judge.
“This is a highly condemnable incident. We are trying our best to arrest the attackers and a thorough investigation is underway,” Punjab government spokesman Malik Ahmad Khan told media. He said that additional security has been provided to the Supreme Court judge.
According to reports by security forces, spent bullet casing of a 9mm pistol was found near the main gate of Justice Ahsan’s residence last night while another was found near kitchen window in the morning.
Forensic experts visited the residence twice and gathered evidence, including CCTV footage of the security camera.
The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) and Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) condemned the firing incidents and demanded immediate arrest of the culprits.
SCBA President Pir Kaleem Khursheed announced a strike and a boycott of court proceedings on Monday. “We will not allow efforts to pressurise the judiciary be successful,” he said, adding that a lawyer’s convention would be called to decide on the future course of action.
“Lawyers of the whole country are standing with the Supreme Court judges,” SCBA Secretary Safdar Tarar said in a statement, while LHCBA President Anwarul Haq said the lawyers were soldiers of the SC judges.
PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari termed the attacks alarming and called for a judicial probe.
PTI chief Imran Khan also “strongly condemned” the incidents, claiming that they were “tactics to pressurise senior judiciary”.
Meanwhile, the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) spokesman also condemned the incident of firing at Justice Ijazul Ahsan’s residence in Lahore.
Strongly condemn the firing at Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan’s house. These Sicilian-mafia-like tactics to pressurise senior judiciary are unacceptable in any democracy. PTI stands firmly behind the Judiciary & Rule of Law & this is one reason behind our 29th April Minar-i-Pakistan jalsa
Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani, Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly Khursheed Shah, Chaudhry Shujaat and Pervez Ilahi also condemned the incident, demanding an investigation into the matter as well as provision of adequate security to SC judges.
Justice Saqib Nisar has appealed to all bar councils to call off the strike scheduled for tomorrow.
He requested the legal fraternity to “attend the courts tomorrow for sake of dispensation of justice to litigants whose cases are already fixed for hearing tomorrow in different courts”, read a statement issued by the apex court.
“Litigant parties will come from far-flung areas to attend courts therefore strike will not only suffer routine court proceedings but also hurt the expectations of people,” the chief justice was quoted as saying.
After completing his LLB from Punjab University Law College, Justice Ahsan completed his postgraduate studies from Cornell University, New York.
He was elevated to the bench in 2009 and was confirmed as a judge of the Lahore High Court in 2011.
Justice Ahsan has served as inspection judge for Kasur, Gujranwala and Lahore Districts. In 2015, he was appointed as the chief justice of Lahore High Court and elevated to the SC in June 2016.