ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed Kamal Azfar to withdraw as federation counsel in the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) review petition and permitted the Additional Attorney General to represent the government and seek assistance of any lawyer, if required, to proceed in the case. Kamal Azfar wrote a letter to Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, saying that he had received life threats from Advocate Abu Bakar Zardari. Although Advocate Zardari rejected the allegation, the apex court took notice and asked the IG Islamabad to provide security to Azfar and conduct a probe. Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, heading a 17-member bench, told Additional Attorney General KK Agha, who assisted Kamal Azfar in the main petition, that if the federation was not interested in keeping you on the case, then Advocate on Record (AOR) Raja Abdul Ghafoor will have to argue the case. The chief justice further stated that if the AAG would not argue, then the court would suspend his licence. Agha said that it was not in his power to decide about it and make a statement in this regard right now, therefore he should be given time to get instructions from the federation. The CJP asked Azfar that the court do not want to put him in difficulty and his life at risk. The court noticed that the position explained by the counsel through the faxed letter and verbally in the court, it would be appropriate to permit him to withdraw from the case. During the proceeding, the CJ stated that last night (Wednesday) he received Kamal Azfars faxed message stating that Abu Bakar Zardari, advocate SHC, through Sardar Zulqernain has threatened him and his wife Naheed Jafferi Azfar on the phone that if he would go to the apex court on Thursday, then he would face the consequences. Azfar informed the court he had decided to come to the court come what may. Abu Bakar Zardari, who was present in the court, denied issuing threats to Kamal Azfar and his wife. The chief justice asked him had he not met Zulqernain or talked to him on the phone yesterday (Wednesday). Abu Bakar said: I met Zulqernain on April 12, 2011. Justice Saqib Nisar said it was a clear interference in the court affairs and obstruction to the administration of justice. He asked why not a contempt of court notice be issued to the person who had threatened the senior lawyer. The chief justice asked the AAG about his reaction to such threats to a senior counsel. Agha expressed his deep regrets on the incident, as he has been working with Azfar in the NRO case as his associate. He said: I am shocked but added, if true, Abu Bakar has not acted on behalf of the federation, but the court should go to the bottom of this case. The chief justice directed IG Islamabad Wajid Durrani and the PPO Karachi to provide complete protection to Kamal Azfar. The CJ directed the IGP Islamabad to thoroughly probe the incident personally and submit a report within three days. The CJ said that on the receipt of the report, a bench would be constituted to hear this matter separately. Kamal Azfar, expressing no confidence in Wajid Durrani, prayed to the court designate some other police officer to conduct inquiry. He said Wajid was in charge of Clifton Police Station when Murtaza Bhutto was killed as a result he was put in jail during his governorship. The chief justice said but they have full confidence in Wajid. Agha said it would be inappropriate to allow Kamal Azfar to proceed as the federation does not have confidence in him, adding: Love has been lost between Mr Azfar and the federation. The AAG said that as the federal minister for law and justice has resigned, therefore he could not get instructions from the federation to proceed in the case. The court observed if a minister resigns then the PM takes over the charge. Justice Saqib Nisar asked the AAG whether you have to take instruction from the law secretary or the law minister. Advocate Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, Akram Raja and AOR Raja Abdul Ghafoor consented that Kamal Azfar be allowed to withdraw. Pirzada said that it would be in the interest of justice if the court gives verdict on merit. The court observed that under order 26 Rule 6 the lawyer appeared in the main case also argue in the review petition. Agha said in two or three cases the Supreme Court has allowed to substitute the counsel. He said this case is very unique and different from other cases, therefore the court should show some flexibility. Justice Sair Ali said that the substitution was allowed under ailing situation of the counsel. The chief justice asked the AAG if you want somebodys assistance, we would welcome it. The CJ allowed the AAG to engage anyone to assist him and granted him time till April 18, the next day of hearing.