KARACHI, (Dawn): Vice-President of Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf’s Sindh chapter, Zahra Shahid Hussain, was killed late on Saturday in an attempted robbery incident on the eve of re-polls in Karachi’s NA-250 constituency, DawnNews reported.
According to police, three motorcycle riders tried to steal Hussain’s handbag and opened fire upon resistance by the PTI leader outside her residence in the city’s Defence Housing Authority Phase-IV.
Senior police officer Nasir Aftab said the incident appeared to be a purse-snatching attempt that went wrong. However, he added that further investigation would reveal more facts. He said all three gunmen escaped after the attack.
“She thought they wanted to snatch her purse and handed it over to them but they killed her,” said PTI leader Firdous Shamim.
PTI chief Imran Khan and spokeswoman Shireen Mazari condemned the killing of their party leader and demanded swift arrest of the culprits.
Mazari declared the incident as an act of terror and a mark of failure on part of the provincial government. She said Imran Khan had requested the government to take action against Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Altaf Hussain for issuing threatening and provocative statements to incite violence in the country, but the government did not take any action.
Altaf Hussain condemned the killing of Zahra Shahid. However, Imran Khan has blamed the MQM chief for his party leader’s killing in Karachi. Zahra Shahid Hussain was the former president of the party’s Sindh Women’s wing and was also one of the founding members of PTI.
In a tweet, the PTI chief said he held Altaf Hussain directly responsible for the killing as he (Altaf) had openly threatened PTI activists and leaders through public broadcasts. Khan, in another tweet, also held the British government responsible for the ‘murder’ of Zahra Shahid saying he had warned them about British citizen (Hussain) after his open threats to PTI workers’ lives.
The PTI chief also announced to launch a nationwide protest against what he called the conduct of MQM.
PTI leader and electoral candidate for NA-250 Arif Alvi said Zahra Shahid received two bullet wounds on her head. She had been with the party for the past 16 years, he added.
Meanwhile, an investigation team of Karachi police has reached the National Medical Centre where Zahra Shahid had been moved for treatment. SSP CID Fayyaz Khan was heading the probe team.
The MQM has called for an urgent meeting of the party’s Rabita Committee over the incident. Party leader Wasay Jalil said Imran Khan had wrongly alleged the MQM chief and in haste.
Speaking to the media after the Rabita Committee meeting, Dr Farooq Sattar said MQM strongly condemned Imran Khan’s hurried allegations against Altaf Hussain. He said the party would take legal action against what he called a conspiracy to politically polarise Karachi.
Earlier on Wednesday, the London Metropolitan police had launched an investigation against the MQM chief following complaints by hundreds of British and Pakistani citizens over one of his speeches.
The speech in question was televised across various media outlets Sunday night in which Altaf Hussain said it would be best to separate Karachi from the rest of Pakistan if the public mandate of his party was not acceptable to the ‘establishment.’ However, the MQM later clarified saying Altaf Hussain’s statements were taken out of context.
In the said speech, the MQM chief used threatening language saying his party workers would teach protesters at Teen Talwar a lesson if he ordered them to do so. He also threatened to harm those who are hatching conspiracies against MQM. He had moreover directed party activists to mentally prepare themselves for his next call. “I am about to set free my enraged followers if opposition against our party is not stopped,” he added.