PPP Sindh chapter's vice-president Rashid Rabbani passed away on Thursday due to complications caused by the novel coronavirus, his family said.
According to his family, Rabbani — who was also serving as the Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah's special assistant — had been placed on a ventilator. He had tested positive for Covid-19 in May.
PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari expressed grief over the news and said that Rabbani's "sudden death had deprived the party of an exemplary, determined, steadfast and visionary leader". Paying tribute to Rabbani, Bilawal in a statement said that the deceased was a "frontline soldier in the struggle against dictators" and would always be remembered by the party's leadership and workers.
Bilawal, who is currently in Gujranwala for Pakistan Democratic Movement's first public meeting, announced three days of mourning over Rabbani's death and said that the October 18 rally will be dedicated to "memories of Shuhda-e-Karsaz and late Rashid Rabbani".
PPP holds a public meeting on October 18 every year to commemorate the deadly attack in 2007 on the homecoming procession of late Benazir Bhutto. The former prime minister had survived the attack, in which at least 200 people were killed and over 500 others were injured.
CM Shah also extended condolences to Rabbani's family on his passing and noted that the deceased was among one of the closest companions of former party chief Benazir.
Rabbani's services for democracy will always be remembered, Shah added.
Sindh Governor Imran Ismail also expressed grief over the news and prayed for Rabbani's soul and his family. Ismail said that the deceased was a "staunch and experienced political worker".
Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani termed Rabbani an asset to the party, adding that "PPP has lost a true, sincere and loyal ally".
A string of politicians, including members of the ruling PTI, have contracted the virus since it first emerged in Pakistan in February.
Prominent political leaders who have contracted the virus so far include National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, PPP leader Saeed Ghani and Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi — all of whom have recovered.
Former Balochistan governor Syed Fazal Agha, PTI Punjab MPA Shaheen Raza, Sindh Minister for Human Settlements Ghulam Murtaza Baloch, MNA Munir Khan Orakzai and PTI's Mian Jamshedud Din Kakakhel are among politicians who passed away after contracting the virus.