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Raza Rabbani ordered immediate arrest of Sabeen Mahmudís killers

26 April, 2015

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ISLAMABAD: Acting President Raza Rabbani ordered on Saturday 25,April,2015 immediate arrest of social activist Sabeen Mahmud’s killers, while the military said its intelligence agencies would assist the investigators in the probe.

The acting president sought a detailed report from provincial authorities on the incident and directed Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah to arrest Ms Sabeen’s killers within three days.

Social media campaigner and the director of a social forum — The Second Floor (T2F) — was shot dead on Friday evening in DHA Karachi shortly after she had hosted a discussion on Balochistan titled ‘Unsilencing Balochistan — Take 2’.

The interactive session was part of a series of discussions being held by civil society to protest the forced cancellation of a seminar on the same topic a few weeks ago at Lahore University of Management Sciences.

Mr Rabbani described Ms Sabeen’s assassination as “an attack on freedom of speech and expression” and her death as a big loss for Karachi.

“Nothing can justify this inhuman killing,” the acting president said, adding the whole nation stood by Ms Sabeen’s family in this hour of great tragedy.

With many analysts looking at the incident in the context of the event she hosted before her murder, fingers were also pointed at the alleged role of intelligence agencies.

Military Spokesman Maj Gen Asim Bajwa condemned the incident in a twitter posting and said intelligence agencies had been told to cooperate in the investigation.

“We condemn the tragic and unfortunate killing of Ms Sabeen Mahmud. Our heart goes out to bereaved family at this sad moment,” he tweeted.

In another posting, the military spokesman said: “Intelligence agencies have been tasked to render all possible assistance to investigating agencies for apprehension of perpetrators and bringing them to justice.”

Gen Bajwa, talking to media men, agreed that it was rare for the military to instruct intelligence agencies to cooperate with the probe in cases involving civilians.

The last time when the military announced it would cooperate with an investigation involving a civilian was after last year’s attack on journalist Hamid Mir. The probe in Mr Mir’s case has yet to find out the attackers, a military official said. Meanwhile, former president Asif Ali Zardari has also condemned Ms Sabeen’s killing.

“The timing and location of the crime scene and the issues Ms Sabeen was known to advocate raise questions about the motives behind this seemingly targeted assassination that needs to be probed,” Mr Zardari’s spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar quoted the former president as saying.

US Embassy: A statement issued by the US Embassy said: “We strongly condemn the murder of Sabeen Mahmud and the wounding of her mother. We extend our deepest condolences to her loved ones and our wishes for her mother’s full and speedy recovery. Sabeen was a courageous voice of the Pakistani people and her death represents a great loss.”

In Karachi, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, who holds the portfolio of home minister, issued orders for setting up a ‘judicial commission’ to probe the murder, according to the CM House spokesperson.

The spokesperson said the provincial government would write a letter to the chief justice of the Sindh High Court to nominate a serving judge for the probe.

Mr Shah said that the late Sabeen was a determined human rights activist.

Meanwhile, a member of the investigation team told Dawn that no CCTV camera was installed at the place where the incident occurred, which he termed an ‘unfortunate’ thing. He recalled this was the same area where last year a naval officer came under attack and they had no CCTV footage of that incident. However, the officer said, proper probe might start on Monday after receipt of a report from the police forensic laboratory.

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