Legendary advertising icon Mukhtar Ahmed Azmi and his son Baqar were laid to rest at the Wadi-e-Hussain graveyard on Thursday after they were gunned down the previous night in what the police suspect was a sectarian killing in Old Sabzi Mandi.
Azmi, 75, was on his way home from MAZ, his advertising agency in Saddar, with Baqar and his 17-year-old grandson Ahmed, in a gray Honda City when men on a motorcycle opened fire at them with a 9mm pistol, said the PIB Colony police. Ahmed, who was injured, was taken to Aga Khan University Hospital. He had arrived in Karachi the day before to attend his cousin’s wedding on September 6. The doctors say that he is not doing well.
The funeral prayers were offered at the IRC’s imambargah at Ayesha Manzil, Gulberg, by Masjid-o-Imambaragah Bohtrab’s prayer leader Maulana Mohammad Ali Naqvi. The police was asked to make sure security was airtight as Azmi’s relatives and Shia leaders made their way to the funeral. Azmi was an important figure in the community, not only was he the chairperson of the Islamic Research Centre but he was also the trustee of the Imambargah Syed-ul-Shohda. He also ran an organisation which facilitates pilgrimages, called the Pakistan Hajj and Umra Society.
Aerial firing was reported in Nazimabad and Ancholi, and some shopkeepers were asked to pull down their shutters down to avoid trouble. Speaking at the funeral, Majilis-e-Wahadat-e-Muslimeen’s Maulana Hassan Naqvi asked everyone to remain patient. He blamed the government and law enforcers for their failure to protect the Shias. While talking to The Express Tribune, he asked how long they were expected to suffer and make sacrifices. “Shias are being targeted all over the country,” he said. “How long do you think our people can remain quiet and patient?” He added that on Friday (today), they planned to carry hold a rally against these targeted attacks, outside the Karachi Press Club.
The police claim that this recent wave of homicides started soon after the bomb blast on the Youm-e-Quds rally organised by the Imamia Student Organisation near Safari Park. The rally was on its way to join the main procession on MA Jinnah Road on August 17, when a roadside bomb went off and killed three people. Within 24 hours, nearly 11 men affiliated with the Deobandis were shot dead in North Karachi and Gulberg. The authorities claim that they arrested a killer, said to be with a banned militant organistion, Sipah-e-Mohammad Pakistan, in connection to the killings.
Investigators believe that there was a rise in sectarian killings, as rival groups were on attack mode and getting even. “These days we are busy studying the Deobandi and Shia target killing patterns,” said District East DIG Shahid Hayat. “This is a purely Shia-Sunni matter. The militant wings of both groups are killing people.” He added that their intelligence wing was working double time to try and catch the suspects.
Mukhtar’s eldest son, Abbas Azmi, whose daughter was getting married, told The Express Tribune that the family had to carrying out coffins, instead of a bridal carriage on what was supposed to be one of the happiest days of their lives.
The police registered an FIR, No. 235/12 under sections 302/34 and 324/34 of the Pakistan Penal Code on a complaint from Azmi’s son Ahmed Abbas.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 7th, 2012.