KARACHI: Gunmen on Friday shot dead a Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) provincial lawmaker, his son and a passer-by outside a mosque in Karachi, officials said.
The outlawed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the killing.
Mohammed Sajid Qureshi, in his early 50s, and his 25-year-old son were targeted in a drive-by shooting as they left a mosque after attending Friday prayers in the congested North Nazimabad neighbourhood.
“Gunmen on a motorcycle fired at (Sindh) provincial assembly member Sajid Qureshi, his son and a pedestrian when they were coming out of mosque,” said senior police official Amir Farooqi.
“He died on the spot, while his son and the third victim died at hospital,” Farooqi said.
Nasir Jamal, a senior member of MQM, confirmed the death of Qureshi and his son.
Speaking over telephone from an undisclosed location, TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said the attack on the MQM lawmaker was in continuation of their earlier announcement of targeting the ‘secular’ MQM, Awami National Party (ANP) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), allies in the former coalition government.
Qureshi, elected to the Sindh Assembly from Karachi’s PS-103 seat in the May 11 polls, was a member of the secular MQM, the largest political party in Karachi now considering whether to join the government in Sindh province.
Three days of mourning
The MQM has announced three days of mourning throughout Pakistan in protest of the killing of its lawmaker.
The party has appealed to all businessmen, traders, industrialists, retailers and transporters to keep their businesses shut on Saturday in protest of the assassination.
Meanwhile, party leader Abdul Rasheed Godil said the MQM would boycott the National Assembly proceedings until ‘serious steps’ were taken to stop 'target killings’ in Karachi.
Soon after the killing, the party also postponed the announcement of results of a ‘referendum’ held Thursday to decide whether MQM should join the Pakistan Peoples Party government in Sindh or lead the opposition in the provincial assembly.
Earlier this week, the PPP had formally invited the former coalition partner to join it for another five years in the Sindh government, but the MQM leadership said it had left it up to its voters to decide.
Senior party leaders had claimed more than 5 million people and party supporters had turned up to cast their votes, and the result was to be announced Friday after counting of ballots.
MQM has long held sway in Karachi, Pakistan’s business capital by the Arabian Sea, and its leader-in-exile Altaf Hussain lives in London.
A city of 18 million people, Karachi contributes 42 percent of Pakistan's GDP but is rife with murder and kidnappings and has been plagued for years by ethnic, sectarian and political violence.
—Zahir Shah Sherazi contributed to reporting from Peshawar.