Renowned Qawwal Amjad Farid Sabri was shot dead in Karachi’s Liaqatabad area in broad daylight on Wednesday afternoon, two days after masked men kidnapped the son of Sindh province’s top judge from outside a supermarket in the posh Clifton area.
Police officials said two gunmen shot at the windscreen of Sabri’s car as it drove off a bridge in the congested Liaquatabad area of the city. Sabri’s relative, Saleem Sabri, who was travelling with him, was also killed in the attack.
Sabri, who was on his way to a studio for a Ramzan transmission, was rushed to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Qari Saifullah of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Hakeemullah Mehsud group claimed responsibility for the attack, saying they had killed Sabri ‘for blasphemy’.
Talking to reporters at the crime scene, Additional Inspector General of Sindh Police Mushtaq Mehar said that two men riding a motorcycle fired shots at Sabri’s Honda Civic car.
“The killers used 30-bore pistols to shoot Sabri five times; the bullet to the head took the Qawwal’s life. The attackers took the Hassan Square route to escape,” he said, adding that police had recovered five .30 calibre casings from the scene of the attack.
Both front side windows were shattered and three bullet holes could be seen on the front screen of Sabri’s car.
Ghulam Ahmed, an eye witness said that he saw two motorcycle riding men fire shots at one side of the car. “Then they turned and fired four shots on the other side of the car,” he added.
Police surgeon Dr Rohina Hasan said that Sabri was shot thrice – twice in the head and once in the leg.
Fakhre Alam, chairman of Sindh Censor Board, claimed in a tweet that Sabri had earlier submitted an application for security, but the Sindh Home Department did not act on it. However, an official source claimed the Home Department had received no such request. The SSP Central also stated he was not aware of any such request.
Amjad Sabri, 45, was one of Pakistan’s finest Qawwals, known for his soul-stirring renditions of mystic poetry.
As the nation mourned the untimely demise of a much loved celebrity, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the attack and directed the relevant authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) President Asif Zardari and his son, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, also condemned Sabri’s killing and sought a report from the Sindh government.
On his part, Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah took notice of the incident and ordered the Sindh police chief to submit a report regarding the assassination.
The CM also suspended the DSP Liaqatabad and SHO Liaqatabad following the incident.
Meanwhile, the MQM’s Coordination Committee announced that the party had decided to suspend all political activities for three days in Sabri’s honour.
It said that black flags would be hoisted at all party offices and that leaders would wear black armbands.
“Brutal killing of a living legend #AmjadSabri is a national tragedy and unbearable loss. We lost our national assets,” MQM leader Mustafa Azizabadi said on Twitter.
“All political and organisational activities have been suspended,” he said.
Amjad Sabri and blasphemy:
Earlier in 2014, the Islamabad Hight Court (IHC) had issued a notice in a blasphemy case to Amjad Sabri along with two TV channels for the playing of a Qawwali during a morning show.
The traditional Qawwali sung by Amjad Sabri had mentioned religious figures, which was deemed offensive.
After a blasphemy case was registered against Geo News, advocate Tariq Asad had put the onus on Qawwal Amjad Sabri and the lyricist for the blasphemy row while seeking to ban the Qawwali that caused the issue.
The court had also issued notices to the federal information secretary, chief executive of ARY, anchors Mubashir Lucman, Nida Yasir and Shaista Lodhi, chairman of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) and the Cable Operators Association of Pakistan chairman.
GOVT NAPPING OVER NAP:
One and a half years after the passing of the National Action Plan (NAP), it has become clear that while the government continues to pay lip service to the slogan, there is very little that is happening on the ground.
Last week, the civilian government did not even present a report on the implementation of the NAP on the occasion of the second anniversary of Operation Zarb-e-Azb, while the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) spokesman also mentioned only four out of the 20 points of the Plan. He talked about ban on formation of armed militias, revival of the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (NACTA), disallowing banned organisations to resurface under new names and bar on media coverage to extremists/terrorists.
As for NACTA, which was supposed to provide a platform to intelligence agencies to coordinate their efforts against extremism and terrorism in the country, it does not even exist on the ground. First, it was reported that the Finance Ministry was reluctant to release the required funds for the Authority and then the Interior Ministry said that the delay is because of the fact that there is no building available for NACTA.