QUETTA, July 14 Former senator Habib Jalib Baloch, secretary-general of the Balochistan National Party-M, was assassinated here on Wednesday morning. He was 58.

“Habib Jalib was attacked at a shop in the Sariab Road area at about 8.20am from a close range,” a police officer said.

Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani has ordered a judicial inquiry and appointed a senior judge of the Balochistan High Court.

BNP-M chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal said Mr Jalib had been receiving threats for some time.

The party called for 40 days of mourning and three days of strike in the province.

As the news of the murder spread riots broke out across the province and mobs started setting government buildings and vehicles on fire.

In Quetta, all markets and business centres were closed. The city was cut off from the rest of the country when protesters blocked highways and railway tracks at various places. No train could leave Quetta till late in the evening.

All educational institutions in Balochistan have been closed for two days.

According to sources, Advocate Jalib was reading a newspaper in his brother's shop in Parkaniabad area when the assailants fired at him. He was taken to the Civil Hospital in a critical condition and died soon after.

“Mr Jalib received seven bullets in his neck and chest,” a doctor said.

“There were three assailants and one of them opened fire on Mr Jalib,” DIG (Operation) Hamid Shakeel told Dawn. The attackers who were on a motorbike escaped.

Balochsitan police chief Iqbal Malik set up four teams to investigate the killing.

“Investigation is under way and we will soon be able to trace the killers,” Quetta police chief Shabbir Sheikh said, adding that the culprits would be traced with the help of Mr Jalib's relatives.

He said Mr Jalib had never sought policy security.

BNP-M's leaders and hundreds of political workers and sympathisers rushed to the hospital after receiving the news about the attack, chanted slogans against the government and blocked different roads by burning tyres and putting up barricades.

Emotional scenes were witnessed as party leaders and workers grieved and cried.

Groups of charged people attacked several banks and government buildings on Jinnah Road. They pelted buildings along the road and passing vehicles with stones. Security personnel also came under attack.

The protesters accompanying the ambulance carrying the body of Mr Jalib tried to hold a sit-in outside the Governor's and Chief Minister's Houses, but were stopped by police near the Circuit House chowk.

Police lobbed teargas shells to disperse the crowd which reacted by throwing stones.

Senior leaders of the BNP-M defused the situation and took the body wrapped in the party flag to Parkaniabad on the outskirts of the city.

Reports of riots were also receive from Khuzdar, Mastung, Kalat, Hub, Noshki, Sibi, Dera Murad Jamali, Panjgur, Turbat, Gwadar, Uthal and other areas.

The BNP-M leader was laid to rest in Parkaniabad.

Tribal elders, leaders of the BNP, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, Hazara Democratic Party, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam and National Party, traders, lawyers and thousands of party workers and supporters attended the burial.

Mr Jalib was born in 1952 in Marriabad area of Quetta. He got his basic education at the Quaidabad Primary School. He joined the Baloch Students' Organisation and was elected chairman of the BSO in the 1970s. He was arrested several times for taking part in political movements. In 1977, he left the country and spent nine years in Afghanistan and Russia where he continued his studies and obtained a law degree.

He returned to Pakistan in 1991 and founded the Balochistan Progressive Alliance which was later merged into the Balochistan National Movement. When the BNM split, he joined the faction led by Sardar Akhtar Mengal. He served twice as secretary-general of the BNP-M. He was elected to the Senate in 1997.

Amanullah Kasi adds The Balochistan Bar Association, BHC Bar Association, Balochistan Bar Council and district bar associations in the province boycotted court proceedings and announced that they would continue the boycott till Friday in protest against the killing.

The National Party, BNP-A, Pakistan People's Party, PMAP, Awami National Party, Pakistan Muslim League-N, JUI (Fazl and Ideological), Jamhoori Watan Party, Jamaat-i-Islami, HDP, Tehrik-i-Insaaf, BSO (Mohiuddin and Pujar), Pakhtun Students' Federation and Balochistan Labour Federation condemned the assassination.

In their statements, they said the killing of political leaders and innocent people was a serious challenge to the government. They said Mr Jalib had never compromised on principles.

APP Adds President Asif Ali Zardari condemned the assassination of the Baloch leader and ordered an inquiry. He asked the Balochistan government to track down the perpetrators. He said Mr Jalib had played an effective role in highlighting the problems of his area as a member of the Senate. The president also praised him for raising voice for the rights of the people of Balochistan.

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