Attack condemned by MQM as PTI chief also holds British government responsible for failing to act against Altaf Hussain.
Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan blamed on Sunday a rival political leader for the killing of a senior member of his party, who was gunned down outside her home in Karachi.
The killing of Zahra Hussain, 59, vice president of the women’s wing of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in Sindh province, came on the eve of a partial repoll of the May 11 elections in the city.
Security was tight for Sunday’s repolling in one constituency following allegations of ballot stuffing, with troops, police and paramilitary rangers backed up by armored personnel carriers.
Hussain was targeted by three gunmen on a motorcycle outside her home in an upscale part of Karachi late Saturday, the latest killing following an bloody election campaign marked by more than 150 violent deaths.
Former cricket star Khan was quick to pin the blame on the Muttahida Qaumi Movement party, which represents the Urdu-speaking majority, and specifically its boss Altaf Hussain, who lives in exile in London. “I hold Altaf Hussain directly responsible for the murder as he had openly threatened PTI workers and leaders through public broadcasts,” Khan said on his Twitter feed, describing the killing as “a targeted act of terror.”
“I also hold the British Govt responsible as I had warned them abt Br citizen Altaf Hussain after his open threats to kill PTI workers,” he said, adding that he was “shocked and deeply saddened by the brutal killing.”
Altaf Hussain condemned the attack in a statement and demanded a “judicial inquiry to get to the culprits.”
Firdous Shamim, a local PTI leader, said that Zahra Hussain “was leaving her home for some work when three gunmen attacked her. She thought they wanted to snatch her purse and handed it over to them but they killed her.”
Police said all three gunmen escaped after the attack. “They shot her with one bullet near her chin and she could not survive,” said senior police official Nasir Aftab.
The motive behind the shooting was unclear and there was no immediate claim of responsibility.
PTI spokesman Jamal Siddiqui said a large number of party leaders and workers would attend Zahra Hussain’s funeral, which would take place in the city’s Defence area Sunday afternoon.
Tensions have been running high between the PTI and the MQM, Karachi’s dominant party, since Khan’s party accused it of widespread vote rigging. The MQM has denied the charge and announced a boycott of the re-run.
The PTI and the rightwing Jamaat-e-Islami party have staged nationwide protests against the alleged irregularities.
The Election Commission ordered the partial repolling due to allegations of ballot-stuffing in a constituency known as NA-250—a largely affluent neighborhood of the country’s financial capital.