Leading Pakistani politician shot dead outside her home

By Patrick Corby

On Saturday night Zahra Shahid Hussain, a senior Pakistani politician associated with the Imran Khan party, was shot dead in the financial centre of Pakistan, Karachi.

Hussain was ambushed by two individuals on motorcycles while standing outside her home in the upper-class district of Clifton. “The assailants opened fire on Zahra, 60, as soon as she reached the gate of her residence. Apparently they were there to target her only,” said one official.

Pakistan ElectionThe female politician was killed hours before 43 polling stations were re-opened in her state of Karachi due to suspected intimidation and fraud in the general election a week ago.

Karachi was just one of several states opened for re-polling after wide accusations by the Imran Khan party of rigging and security issues by the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), a dominant political force in Karachi.

Mr Khan accused senior MQM member Altaf Hussain of the killing, whilst also condemning the UK for failing to heed public threats from MQM. Altaf Hussain was exiled from Pakistan due to an accusation of murder, and currently leads the MQM party from within the UK where he was given asylum in the 1990s.

Mr Hussain, in reaction to the rigging accusations, made a statement that has been called an open threat of violence by Mr Khan, in which he referenced protests taking place near the Three Swords roundabout in Karachi.

He said:  “those people who are protesting – and grandstanding – near Three Swords [a well know monument] – I don’t want to fight or quarrel, but if I order my supporters now, they will go to Three Swords and turn them into a reality.”

In response Mr Khan retorted: “I hold Altaf Hussain directly responsible for the murder as he openly threatened PTI workers and leaders through public broadcasts…. I also hold the British government responsible as I had warned them about British citizen Altaf Hussain after his open threats.”

The accusations will refocus attention on the running of the financial centre of Karachi by Altaf Hussain from his current dwellings on Edgware High Street in London. One Karachi-based Pakastani citizen said: “If he wants to run Karachi he should come and live here.”

The killing is just the latest in a series of national attacks throughout the Pakistani democratic election. Last Saturday on May 11th a victory was securely won by Nawaz Sharif and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

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