Judges receive ‘anthrax-laced’ letters

Case lodged in CTD police station in Islamabad

News Desk April 02, 2024
Islamabad High Court. PHOT: FILE


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.

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.

Also read: Aitzaz, LHCBA move SC for investigation into judges' letter

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.

Additionally, the suspicious letters have been handed over to the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) for further investigation, as the incident continues to send shockwaves through the legal community.
The development came a day after the Supreme Court took suo motu notice and formed a seven-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa, to address the issue raised by six IHC judges who accused spy agencies of interfering in judicial matters.

The first hearing of the seven-member bench is scheduled for Wednesday (today).

In addition to the Chief Justice, the bench includes Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Athar Minallah, Justice Mussarat Hilali, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, and Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan.

Last week's emergence of the explosive letter led to a crisis, prompting the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Isa, to face mounting pressure to adjudicate on the matter under Article 184(3) of the Constitution.

Just a day prior, more than 300 lawyers from various bar associations nationwide commended the judges' actions and urged the apex court to take up the issue within its suo motu jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, a case was lodged at the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) Police Station in the federal capital over a complaint of a branch clerk Qadir Ahmed who received and dispatched the post.


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