KARACHI: Unknown assailants gunned down social media campaigner and civil society activist Khurram Zaki on Saturday night in Karachi.
Central District SSP, Muqadas Haider told Dawn.com that four suspects riding on two motorcycles opened fire on Zaki while he was eating dinner at a restaurant in Sector-11B of North Karachi. The activist was killed, while two others – journalist Rao Khalid and bystander Aslam – were critically wounded in the attack.
A former journalist, Zaki was an active campaigner for human rights and was the editor of the website and Facebook page Let Us Build Pakistan (LUBP) which claimed to “spread liberal religious views and condemned extremism in all forms”.
According to his Twitter profile, Zaki was the former head of current affairs for TV Channel News One, where he looked after Infotainment and religious programming.
Standing up to Lal Masjid
Zaki was last in the media limelight alongside activist Jibran Nasir in a campaign against Lal Masjid cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz for inciting hatred against Shia Muslims. The campaigners had managed to get a case registered against Aziz.
In his complaint for registration of the case, Zaki had stated that Maulana Aziz and Jamia Hafsa-Lal Masjid released a video message in which the cleric attempted to incite sectarian hatred and violence against Shia Muslims by blaming them for leading the civil society campaign against him and Lal Masjid-Jamia Hafsa. Maulana Aziz also accused Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and its officials of supporting and promoting a sectarian agenda by trying to concoct false and fabricated evidence against him. He specifically accused an unnamed serving brigadier in the agency, who he claimed belongs to the Shia sect, Zaki had added.
The activist’s complaint further stated that such allegations were obvious and deliberate attempts from Aziz’ side to malign and divide the national institution on sectarian lines, by fomenting sectarian hatred among the rank and file of the intelligence agency.
He went on to say that such attempts to scandalise ISI falls out of the fair perimetres of genuine academic criticism of the wrongdoings of any state institution as no evidence was put forward to support his allegations.
Rights activist Sabeen Mahmud, who was also gunned down in Karachi, had taken part in the protest against Lal Masjid as well.
‘Killed by sectarian outfits’
A spokesperson of Majlis Wahdat Muslimeen (MWM) said that Khurram Zaki, 40, was not only a prominent civil society activist but also a religious scholar who tended to attend programmes on various TV channels.
The MWM spokesperson said they believed that banned sectarian outfits were involved in this gruesome murder.