‘Everybody Knows Who killed Her and Why’: Gunmen Kill Prominent Female Activist Sabeen Mahmud in Pakistan

Pakistan

Friends are calling it an assassination

(KARACHI, Pakistan)— Adil Jawad reports: Gunmen on a motorcycle killed a prominent women’s rights activist in Pakistan just hours after she held a forum on the country’s restive Baluchistan region, home to a long-running insurgency, police said Saturday.

While investigators declined to speculate on a motive for the killing of Sabeen Mahmud, friends and colleagues immediately described her death as a targeted assassination in Pakistan, a country with a nascent democracy where the military and intelligence services still hold tremendous sway.

The gunmen shot both Mahmud and her mother, Mehnaz Mahmud, as they stopped at a traffic light Friday night in an upscale Karachi neighborhood, senior police officer Zafar Iqbal said. Later, Mahmud’s car was brought to a nearby police station; blood stained the car’s white exterior, the front driver’s side window was smashed and a pair of sandals sat on the floor, surrounded by broken glass.

“Two men riding a motorcycle opened fire on the car,” Iqbal said. Mahmud “died on her way to the hospital. Her mother was also wounded,” he said.

Alia Chughtai, a close friend of Mahmud, told The Associated Press that Mahmud was driving at the time of attack and her mother was sitting next to her. Chughtai said Mahmud’s driver, who escaped unharmed, was sitting in the back seat at the time of the attack. She said she did not know why the driver wasn’t driving the car.

Iqbal and other police officials declined to speculate on a motive for the slaying. However, earlier that night, Mahmud hosted an event at her organization called The Second Floor to discuss human rights in Baluchistan, an impoverished but resource-rich southwestern province bordering Iran.

Thousands of people have disappeared from Baluchistan province in recent years amid a government crackdown on nationalists and insurgent groups there. Activists blame the government and intelligence agencies for the disappearances, something authorities deny. Read the rest of this entry »


19 Killed in Attack on Pakistani Shi’ite Mosque

PAKISTAN-UNREST-NORTHWEST

Men attacked the mosque, at least one blew himself up

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A Pakistani official says that the death toll in a militant attack on a Shiite Muslim mosque in the northwestern city of Peshawar has risen to 19.

Provincial Information Minister Mushtaq Ghani says the attack on Friday also wounded more than 40 people. There was much shooting in the immediate aftermath of the explosion but he says the violence is now over. Read the rest of this entry »


Escalation, Targeted killings: Early Warning Signs of Shia Genocide in Pakistan

How is this grand protest different from what we witnessed at Tahrir Square in Egypt last year? It didn’t get the coverage it deserved. PHOTO: AFP

How is this grand protest different from what we witnessed at Tahrir Square in Egypt last year? It didn’t get the coverage it deserved. PHOTO: AFP

For The DiplomatWaris Husain writes: Last month the world commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide. Dignitaries from around the world delivered speeches to mark the occasion, but UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s statement was perhaps the most remarkable, as he admitted that the United Nations was “ashamed” of its failure to prevent the mass killing. At the same time Ban was making this statement, a Shia doctor was gunned down in Karachi, Pakistan by sectarian terrorists, as part of a self-avowed campaign to “make Pakistan a graveyard” for all Shias.

pakistan-protest

The international community can no longer ignore the alarming rise in violence directed at Pakistan’s Shia minority.

Despite the escalation of targeted killings of Shia leaders and large-scale bombings of Shia neighborhoods, the Pakistani government and international community have failed to apply the lessons from cases like Rwanda in recognizing the early warning signs of an impending genocide perpetrated by sectarian terrorist groups. While the murder rates of Shias in Pakistan is nowhere close to the 800,000 Tutsis killed in Rwanda, members of the international community are duty-bound to prevent mass killing events before they occur.

REUTERS/Mohsin Raza

REUTERS/Mohsin Raza

The Shia’s plight must be understood in the context of Pakistan’s position within the larger sectarian struggle between Sunnis, largely supported by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, and Shias, supported by Iran and its close allies. Pakistan walks a tightrope in this conflict as it shares a border with Iran, but relies on Saudi Arabia for aid and political patronage. This international tension has domestic implications with 20 percent of Pakistan’s population belonging to the Shia faith, amounting to nearly 25 million people who are being threatened with extermination by sectarian outfits.

To understand the threat that Pakistan’s Shias face, one must look to the Convention on the Punishment and Prevention of Genocide, to which Pakistan is a signatory. Under the Convention, a genocide occurs when a party has the intent to destroy a religious, ethnic, or racial group “in whole, or in part” and acts on that intent by killing, injuring, or deliberately causing conditions leading to the physical destruction of that group. Read the rest of this entry »


TV Reporter Wounded in Pakistan Gun Attack

Gunmen have shot and wounded one of Pakistan's best known television presenters in the city of Karachi.

Gunmen have shot and wounded one of Pakistan’s best known television presenters in the city of Karachi.

Police said the attackers opened fire on Hamid Mir‘s car near the airport.

The presenter for Geo TV received three bullets, but was in a stable condition, the officials added.

There have been previous attempts on the life of Mr Mir, the first journalist to interview Osama bin Laden after 9/11. Pakistan is one of the most dangerous countries for the media.

The attack has been strongly condemned by Pakistani politicians, including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Last month, Mr Sharif pledged to do more to protect journalists in Pakistan.

Car chase

Mr Mir had just landed in Karachi and was on his way to the studios of Geo TV, a private Pakistani news channel, when unidentified gunmen in a car and on motorcycles reportedly tailed him before opening fire. Read the rest of this entry »