Pak rights advocates seen as ‘vulnerable targets’
ACTIVISTS FEEL ATTACKED AFTER MURDER OF MAN WHO SPREAD ‘LIBERAL RELIGIOUS VIEWS’
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