Prominent Pakistani rights activist Khurram Zaki shot dead while having dinner with friend

Prominent Pakistani rights activist Khurram Zaki was shot dead while having dinner with a friend at a restaurant here, and his NGO blamed “Takfiri Deobandi militants” for the killing.

Zaki, 40, was with his journalist friend Rao Khalid when two attackers arrived on a motorcycle, sprayed bullets at them and sped away, the media quoted police as saying.

Rao Khalid and a bystander were critically wounded in the attack.

The News International said Zaki suffered multiple bullet wounds. The attackers used a 9mm pistol. Ten spent bullet shells were found from the scene of the crime.

A former journalist, Zaki was an active campaigner for human rights and edited the website and Facebook page “Let Us Build Pakistan (LUBP)”, which claimed to “spread liberal religious views”.

LUBP Editor in Chief Ali Abbas Taj offered condolences “to Pakistani nation on the martyrdom of Zaki” and said he was second from the editorial team of LUBP to be killed by Deobandi militants.

“For the last one year, Zaki was a target of a systematic hate campaign by Deobandi fanatic Shamsuddin Amjad of the Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan in collaboration with the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP).”

Taj said “hateful and violence inciting posters” against Zaki had been published recently by the Facebook page run by the pro-Taliban fanatics of Jamaat-e-Islami.

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.

Zaki’s website is currently blocked in Pakistan, Dawn News reported on Sunday.

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.

Rights activist Sabeen Mahmud, who was also gunned down in Karachi, had also taken part in the protest against Lal Masjid.

According to social media, Zaki was also a research scholar, blogger as well as human rights activist.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) condemned the killing and demanded the immediate arrest of the murderers.

“Zaki’s murder is condemnable. Incidents of targeted killing are occurring in spite of on-going operations in the city,” the MQM said.

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