HYDERABAD, April 11: In an incident that highlighted the security threats confronting election candidates as well as the growing capacity of militants to pick out targets at will, a Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) candidate for the National Assembly and the Sindh Assembly was gunned down on Thursday in a targeted attack claimed by the Taliban.
Fakhrul Islam was attacked by two armed men on a motorcycle near Malka Nagar Chowk Hala Naka. He was taken to Hyderabad’s Liaquat University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
He received four bullets in the head, chest, abdomen and arm. The body was handed over to the family after medico-legal formalities and it was taken to his father’s house in Pathan Colony.
Fakhrul Islam was the first candidate for the NA to be killed.
The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for Fakhrul Islam’s murder. Its spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan called Dawn.com correspondent in Peshawar Zahir Shah Sheerazi from an unspecified place and said his organisation had carried out the shooting. It was in continuation of the TTP’s earlier threat that all secular parties were on its hit list, he added.
(According to agencies, the MQM said the candidate had been targeted deliberately and accused “terrorists” of trying to sabotage a peaceful democratic process. “The way he has been killed and his father remained unhurt shows the precision the killers have and also their intention to target him in particular,” spokesman Wasay Jalil said.
“Terrorists are threatening to sabotage elections... but these terrorist acts will not make us change our stance against extremism and terrorism,” he added.)
The news of Fakhrul Islam’s death spread like a wildfire and a large number of local leaders and activists of the MQM, relatives and his friends reached Pathan Colony. Shopkeepers downed their shutters as word spread of the killing Talking to reporters, a leader of the Muttahida’s Hyderabad chapter, Mohammad Shareef, said: “We demand of the Election Commission to ensure security and protection to all candidates so that they can participate in election campaigns.”
Fakhrul Islam was a senior activist of the MQM and its candidate for NA-221 and PS-47.
“Security institutions should investigate such targeted attacks as three MQM activists were also targeted in Site sector some weeks ago. Three to four such incidents took place in Hyderabad recently,” he said.
Hatri DSP Inayat Hussain Bhatti said Fakhrul Islam Khan alias Pappu was going to his goods transport office from home when he was attacked by the two gunmen. A number of residents and shopkeepers of the area rushed to site after hearing the gunshots. The assailants left their motorbike and snatched another one at gunpoint and escaped.
The DSP said no case had so far been registered with the Hatri police station, adding that police had seized the motorbike and started investigation. Initial investigation suggested that it was a targeted killing, he said.
The deceased’s cousin Baz Mohammad Khan said 40-year-old Fakhrul Islam, son of Alhaj Mohammad Imran Khan, was a joint unit in-charge of 16 in Sector-B of MQM Hyderabad. He recently filed his nomination papers for NA-221 and PS-47.
His younger brother Iftikhar Ahmed Khan also filed nomination papers for NA-221 as an MQM candidate.
Fakhrul Islam left behind wife, three daughters and two sons.
His funeral prayer was held after Isha in Pathan Colony. It was attended by a large number of his relatives, friends and leaders and workers of the party, including Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Shakir Ali, Shabbir Qaimkhani, Mohammad Shareef, Syed Tayyab Hussain, Salahuddin, Syed Waseem Hussain, Akram Adil and Sohail Yousuf.
He was laid to rest in a graveyard adjacent to Hayat Baba Dargah.
Fakhrul Islam’s killing came about a week after shooting to death of a PPP covering candidate for a provincial assembly seat (PS-95) in Karachi. Adnan Aslam, son of an area leader of the party, was targeted near his under-construction house in Orangi Town on April 3.
Earlier on March 17, three MQM activists -- Ghulam Murtaza, Sher Mohammad and Azeem -- were gunned down in an attack on the party’s office in Hyderabad.
On Nov 4 last year, the party’s former taluka nazim, Jalilur Rehman, was shot dead in Phulelli area hours after two men belonging to the Dawoodi Bohra community were killed in a targeted attack in Saddar Bazar.
Police had arrested two activists of a banned militant outfit.
Agencies add: The Taliban have threatened to attack leaders of the MQM because the party has spoken out strongly against them.
“The killing is part of our war against secular parties, including the MQM, PPP and Awami National Party, which committed genocide of our tribal people and Muslims while remaining in power for five years,” the TTP spokesman said.