Washington: Horrified at the assassination of former member of parliament Syed Ali Raza Abidi, a group of dissident Pakistanis living in self-exile in the US on Thursday demanded that his killers be brought to account.
"We are shocked and horrified, and condemn in the strongest possible terms the heinous murder of former parliamentarian and senior leader of the MQM, Syed Ali Raza Abidi," members of the Steering Committee of South Asians Against Terrorism and for Human Rights (SAATH) said in a statement on the assassination of Abidi.
Abidi was killed on Sunday in Karachi, a Mohajir majority city, by two gunmen riding on a motorbike outside his doorstep when he was returning from his office.
"This murder comes amid false claims by Pakistan's establishment and its artificially selected civilian government about restoring peace and security to Karachi," said SAATH, which recently held a conference in Washington DC on the shrinking space for civil rights and dissidence inside Pakistan.
"We demand his killers be brought to account – and not just the pawns in the game, but the masterminds," SAATH demanded. Signatories to the statement include columnists Gul Bukhari and Dr Mohammed Taqi, exiled journalist Taha Siddiqi, and former Pakistan ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani, along with other members of SAATH's 28-member steering committee.
In a separate statement, the Voice of Karachi chairman Nadeem Nusrat categorically blamed Pakistani intelligence agencies for the murder of Abidi. "Ali Raza Abidi was not only a Mohajir, he also belonged to Shia community which has been the subject of a wave of organised lethal attacks by establishment-sponsored religious extremists. Ali Abidi also frequently criticised inhuman treatment of Pashtuns and Balochs in the parliament, besides regularly raising his voice against Pakistani state's discriminatory policies towards his fellow Mohajirs -- descendants of those who had migrated from India to Pakistan at the time of partition in 1947," Nusrat said.
US Congressman Thomas Garrett in a tweet condemned the killing of Abidi. "Targeted killings of political leaders are a leading indicator of an oppressive society. Whether government sanctioned or internal dispute, the killing of Ali Raza Abidi doesn't bode well for the present, the future, or minority rights in South Asia," he tweeted.
"It is time that a coalition between minorities of Pakistan is established for their rights of individual freedom and religious liberties. The repressive regime or their agents may temporarily feel empowered by assassinating the leaders or victimising the general public but their actions will have accountability," said Puneet Ahluwalia, a member of Trump Campaign's Asian Pacific Advisory committee.
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Updated Date: Dec 28, 2018 08:22:08 IST