Pakistan prime minister orders investigation into killing of rights activist
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has ordered an investigation into the killing of prominent rights activist Sabeen Mahmud who was shot dead minutes after she hosted a seminar on abuses in troubled Baluchistan province.
Police said Mahmud, who runs The Second Floor, a cafe in Karachi that organizes debates and art events, was killed late Friday when gunmen attacked her car as she departed with her mother from the venue in the upmarket Defence neighborhood.
Mahmud was hit by five bullets and died at the scene, police said. Her mother was wounded. Mama Abdul Qadeer, a prominent Baluch rights activist and a speaker at the seminar, said Mahmud had received threats before the event.
“The program organizers were already receiving threats ... it is very difficult to talk about Baluchistan in Pakistan,” Qadeer told AFP Saturday.
Police initially said it appeared to be “a result of personal enmity” but launched a probe after Sharif ordered an investigation into her killing.
“A team of three senior police officers headed by the deputy inspector general of police will probe the killing,” Atique Ahmed Shaikh, a spokesman for Karachi police, told AFP.
Tariq Dharajo, another senior police official, said no one had yet been arrested and police were investigating different angles.
He said Mahmud’s mother told police Saturday that attackers on a motorbike opened fire after they stopped their car at a traffic signal.
Mahmud had on Friday hosted a seminar about rights abuses in Baluchistan titled “Un-silencing Baluchistan Take 2,” featuring two prominent Baluch rights activists, Qadeer and Farzana Baluch, among other speakers.
Qadeer and Baluch were meant to speak at another seminar, “Unsilencing Baluchistan,” at the prestigious Lahore University of Management Sciences about two weeks ago, but rights activists said it was cancelled apparently at the behest of the powerful Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) agency.