Hakimullah Mehsud faction, a splinter group of the Taliban, has claimed responsibility for the murder Pakistan's finest Sufi Qawwals, best known for his soul-stirring renditions of mystic poetry.
Sabri, 45, and an associate were travelling in a car in Karachi's congested Liquatabad 10 area when two motorcycle-borne gunmen fired at their vehicle, critically injuring them.
“Two attackers riding a motorcycle intercepted his car and targeted Amjad Sabri, who was driving,” said Sindh police chief Allah Dino Khawaja.
The two were rushed to Abbasi Shaheed hospital, where Sabri succumbed to his injuries. His associate also died.
“Sabri was shot in the chest and head and he was shifted to Abbasi Shaheed hospital immediately, where he succumbed to his injuries. His associate was also killed in the targeted attack,” a police official said.
Hakimullah Mehsud faction, a splinter group of the Taliban, has claimed responsibility for the murder. The outfit’s spokesperson Qari Saifullah Mehsud said it killed Sabri because he was a “blasphemer.”
In 2014, the Islamabad Hight Court had issued a notice in a blasphemy case to two private TV channels for playing a qawwali during a morning show. The show had mixed a mock wedding with a qawwali sung by Sabri related to religious figures, and was considered offensive.
Additional police surgeon Dr Rohina Hasan confirmed Sabri’s death. He was shot thrice twice in the head and once on the ear.
“Two riders used 30-bore pistols to shoot Sabri five times, the bullet to the head took the qawwal’s life,” a senior police official said.
Sabri was apparently heading for the studio of a private television channel when he was attacked.
Police officials recovered five 30-bore casings from the scene of the attack, which have been sent for forensics.
Both front side windows were shattered and three bullet holes could be seen on the front screen.
A senior official of the Sindh home department said they were looking into reports that Sabri had recently submitted an application to the government for provision of security.
Amjad Sabri was the son of renowned Qawwal Ghulam Farid Sabri whose family is famous in the subcontinent for their contribution to this sufi art and mystic poetry.
Sabri was one of Pakistan’s finest qawwals, known for his soul-stirring renditions of mystic poetry.
Some of the most memorable and famous qawwalis of the Sabris were ‘Bhar Do Jholi Meri’, ‘Tajdar-i-Haram’ and ‘Mera Koi Nahin Hai Teray Siwa’.
Sabri, who travelled widely to Europe and the US for his concerts, was known as the “rockstar” of Qawali due to his modern style of rendition.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has condemned the attack and has directed authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Fakhre Alam, Chairman of Sindh Censor Board, has claimed in a tweet that Sabri had earlier submitted an application for security, but the home department did not act on it.
His killing comes just two days after the son of the Sindh High Court Chief Justice was kidnapped and it raises serious concern about the security situation in Pakistan’s biggest city. This week a doctor belonging to the minority Ahmadi community was also shot dead in his clinic by gunmen.
Opposition politicians have described Sabri’s killing as a total failure of the provincial government to ensure proper law and order situation in Karachi which is the economic hub of the country.
The spokesman for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insasaf party, Naeem ul Haq, called for those involved in heinous crimes to be given exemplary capital punishment.
“No one is safe in Karachi. The so-called clean up operation since the last two years is a total failure.”
A senior member of the Mutthaida Qaumi Movement, Waseem Akhtar, who is the nominee for the Mayor’s post also condemned Sabri’s killing and said the government should resign.
“Militants belonging to different banned outfits are openly roaming in parts of Karachi and there is no one to stop them,” he said.