Karachi Mourns Slaying of Anti-Militant Activist

Karachi Mourns Slaying of Anti-Militant ActivistKarachi Mourns Slaying of Anti-Militant Activist

An outspoken critic of militant groups, Khurram Zaki, has been killed in the Pakistani city of Karachi. Activists say that selective military operations against the port city’s liberal parties are emboldening militants.

Hundreds of human rights activists protested Zaki’s murder on Sunday outside the offices of the chief minister of Sindh province.

Zaki was killed late on Saturday at an outdoor cafe in Karachi by four gunmen on two motorcycles, Muqaddas Haider, a senior Pakistani police official said on Sunday, Deutsche Welle reported.

A friend dining with him and a bystander were both injured in the attack, Haider said. His final comment on Twitter was on the election of the new mayor of London.

A former journalist, Zaki was a prominent and outspoken opponent of radical militant groups, particularly the organization Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and the Pakistani Taliban.

Zaki also led a campaign against Abdul Aziz, the radical cleric of the Red Mosque in Islamabad. He had accused Aziz of justifying attacks such as the Peshawar school massacre, in which 134 schoolchildren were killed by Taliban militants in 2014.

Along with other campaigners, Zaki filed a court case against Aziz for fomenting hatred against Pakistan’s Shia minority.

In April last year, activist Sabeen Mahmud, who also took part in the campaign against Abdul Aziz and radicalism, was shot dead in the southern city of Karachi.

According to a statement released after Zaki’s death on the website “Let Us Build Pakistan,” the activist had been “a target of a systematic hate campaign” by a militant political leader and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a supremacist and militant organization based in Pakistan.

“It is horrific and shameful that human rights defenders are being gunned down without any fear of repercussion,” Nageen Hyat, an Islamabad-based rights activist, told DW.

Police said it was not immediately clear who was behind the killing. However, in a phone call to Reuters, a faction of the Pakistan Taliban—the Hakeemullah group—claimed the assassination, saying Zaki had been targeted for his campaign against Aziz.

The claim cannot be verified and police say the group has previously claimed attacks it did not carry out.

Targeted killings are common in Karachi despite an ongoing paramilitary operation. Critics say that the operation is only aimed at the liberal Muttahida Qaumi Movement party, and militant groups are being exempted.

Last week, MQM activist Aftab Ahmed was tortured to death while being held by a paramilitary group.