KARACHI: Police registered an FIR on Sunday against unidentified assailants who gunned down rights activist and blogger Khurram Zaki on Saturday. Investigations have also been launched into the attack.
Zaki, 40, a prominent rights activist known for his outspoken stance against the Taliban and other radical militant groups, was buried at the Wadi-e-Hussain graveyard.
He was sitting with his friend Khalid Rao at a roadside café in District Central of Karachi late Saturday night when they were targeted by four armed men riding on two motorcycles.
Both Rao and another café-goer Jahanzeb Aslam were critically injured in the attack. Zaki, however, succumbed to his injuries earlier.
A case was lodged at the Sir Syed police station on Sunday. While the FIR is against unidentified culprits, it mentions that Zaki was murdered at the behest of Maulana Aurangzeb Farooqui, the central chief of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ). Police have also incorporated anti-terrorism sections in the case.
While Farooqui’s name has been included, investigators believe that a banned militant outfit could also be behind the incident.
“We suspect that he was killed for multiple reasons – first because he belonged to a particular sect and second he was against extremism,” said SHO Muhammad Iftikhar.
“It is certain that Zaki was targeted by a banned outfit as he and his friends were receiving threats from proscribed groups but we have also to establish the hands behind these banned outfits, who gain from his killing.”
In addition to being a research scholar, journalist, blogger, human rights and civil rights activist, Zaki was currently the editor of the blog and news website “Let Us Build Pakistan” (LUBP) which is an “independent, critical, progressive and inclusive” blog and “supports progressive and pluralistic political parties.”
Meanwhile, forensic teams on Sunday visited the crime scene and collected evidence from the area including 19 casings of 9mm bullets. An initial forensic report suggests that the weapon used to kill Zaki had no previous record.
Officials were, however, frustrated in their attempts to get a view of the attack since no CCTV cameras were installed at the crime scene. However, police say they are searching for witnesses to help make sketches of the culprits.
Zaki’s family, meanwhile, has demanded the immediate arrest of the culprits.
“I am proud that I am a daughter of a ‘Shaheed’,” said Zaki’s daughter. “The murderers should be arrested and punished.”
ASWJ condemns attack
The ASWJ, whose central leader has been named in the FIR, has condemned Zaki’s murder and has demanded arrest of the culprits behind the incident.
“I have no link with Zaki’s killing. I have no link with any killing,” said Farooqui while reacting to his inclusion in the FIR.
“I have been living in Karachi for over 35 years and not a single FIR of murder is registered against me.
“My organisation and I also condemn his killing as we are always against murders and terrorism. If anyone is trying to include my name in an FIR, he is wrong and it is a conspiracy against me or my organisation.”
Thousands attend funeral
Thousands of mourners gathered outside Chief Minister’s (CM) house to protest Zaki’s murder on Sunday afternoon.
The charged mourners chanted slogans against the banned militant outfits and warned of continuing their protest until the government arrests Zaki’s killers.
But after an FIR for the attack was lodged, the slain activists’ family, especially his mother and wife, requested the protesters to offer his funeral prayers and proceed for his burial.
Subsequently, Zaki’s funeral prayers were offered outside the CM house before the procession moved to the Wadi-e-Hussain graveyard for his burial.
Jibran Nasir, a social activist who was present at the protest, said that it was Zaki’s wish that his funeral should be held outside CM house in case he is killed.
While speaking to protesters, Zaki’s mother urged the government to arrest his killers. She requested his followers to keep on spreading his message.
Several leaders of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement also participated in the protest to show their solidarity with Zaki, including Farooq Sattar and Amir Khan.
Local and international leaders have condemned Zaki’s killing, calling for the arrest of the culprits. Among those who have condemned the murder are Federal Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid and former president Asif Ali Zardari. The delegation of the European Union in Pakistan also condemned the incident.
Zardari, whose Pakistan Peoples Party governs Sindh, directed the government to arrest the murderers of the activist and bring them to book.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 9th, 2016.