KARACHI: A former trade union leader, who had been camping outside the Karachi Press Club (KPC) for a month in protest against the retirement of General Raheel Sharif, died on Wednesday after consuming poison a few days earlier.
Lutf Amim Shibli, 64, who once served as chairman of the Progressive Workers Union at the Karachi Port Trust (KPT), started his protest on Nov 1, threatening that he would commit suicide if General Raheel was not given an extension in service.
“Raheel Sharif is a messiah. I am his fan. Only he can save the country from terrorism and social ills,” read the posters and banners set up around his camp. According to doctors the man took his life by consuming poison.
“He attempted suicide on Nov 27 after the ISPR [Inter-Services Public Relations] announced the retirement plan of Gen Raheel. We took him to Jinnah hospital from where he was referred to Aga Khan University Hospital. He was initially on ventilator, but later died,” said Shibli’s sister-in-law Nooren.
“Before consuming poison, he wrote a letter to his wife, saying that his funeral prayers must be held in front of the KPC,” she said while talking to The Express Tribune by the phone.
Police surgeon Dr Eijaz Ahmed told The Express Tribune that Shibli’s post-mortem had not yet been conducted but it looked he died of poisoning.
Shibli’s family originally belonged to Jalandhar, India, but they had migrated to Pakistan after independence and he joined the KPT. He had married thrice and his first wife, Gulzari Begum, also a trade union leader of the Pakistan Steel Mills Progressive Workers Union, was killed a few years ago.
He is survived by five children from his first spouse and two children from another wife, who lives in Gizri.
“His four-month-old son is in my lap and there is no one to look after the family,” Noreen said.
One of his close friends, while requesting anonymity, said the deceased was not mentally fit and would become aggressive on different issues confronted by Pakistan. “He was frustrated and used to talk about committing suicide. Finally, he did it,” he said.
Nasir Mansoor, deputy general secretary of the National Trade Union Federation, said Shibli was a leftist leader and his decision to support the army bewildered many of his colleagues.
“We have never supported any general. I don’t know how Shibi, who had once played a great role for the rights of labourers, became a fan of Raheel Sharif, which was unusual for left-oriented comrades,” he said.
According to the family, the funeral prayers of Lutf Amim Shibli will be held at 2:5pm in front of the KPC as per his will.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 1st, 2016.