Pak rights ad­vo­cates seen as ‘vul­ner­a­ble tar­gets’


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Karachi: The mur­der of Khur­ram Zaki by armed men in Karachi has un­der­scored the vul­ner­a­bil­ity of hu­man-rights and civil-lib­er­ties ac­tivists in Pak­istan. Khur­ram Zaki, 40, was killed on Satur­day in the south­ern Pak­istani city by un­known as­sailants in an at­tack that also left a jour­nal­ist dead and a by­stander crit­i­cally in­jured. Mr Zaki, whose fu­neral took place on Sun­day, was known for his out­spo­ken stance against the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni sec­tar­ian group; the Pak­istani Tal­iban; and Ab­dul Aziz, a con­tro­ver­sial re­li­gious leader. In De­cem­ber 2015, Mr Zaki led street protests de­mand­ing that Aziz be ar­rested and charged with hate speech for al­legedly jus­ti­fy­ing at­tacks such as the Peshawar school mas­sacre in 2014 where at least 132 school chil­dren were killed.

A fac­tion of the Pak­istani Tal­iban, the Ha­keemul­lah group, claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for Mr Zaki’s killing, but the po­lice was un­able to ver­ify those claims and said the group had pre­vi­ously taken re­spon­si­bil­ity for at­tacks it did not carry out in Karachi. Speak­ing to Al Jazeera, Ji­bran Nasir, a Pak­istan lawyer and ac­tiv- ist, said he had no doubt that Mr Zaki paid with his life for his ad­vo­cacy of lib­eral causes. “The pri­mary rea­son be­hind Mr Zaki be­ing shot dead was his con­stant ac­tivism in a bold man­ner,” Nasir said. “Zaki had an idea of what he was get­ting into.

“He re­ceived var­i­ous threats. We’ve reg­is­tered an FIR [First In­for­ma­tion Re­port] in Karachi af­ter his mur­der and given the names of peo­ple who should be held re­spon­si­ble. “Aziz has been named as the prime sus­pect in the FIR.” ‘Vul­ner­a­ble tar­gets’ A former jour­nal­ist and an ac­tive cam­paigner for hu­man rights, Mr Zaki was the ed­i­tor of Let Us Build Pak­istan, a web­site and Face­book page which pro­fessed to “spread lib­eral re­li­gious views and con­demned ex­trem­ism in all forms”.

“Ac­tivists are vul­ner­a­ble tar­gets,” Mr Nasir said. “Ter­ror out­fits con­tinue to spread reign of ter­ror by shoot­ing them and achiev­ing their pur­pose. But as ac­tivists, we knew what we were get­ting into and we signed up for this. Al Jazeera

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