Prominent Pakistani Politician Shot, Killed On Re-Election Eve

May 18, 2013
Originally published on May 19, 2013 1:25 am

On the eve of a re-vote, a prominent Pakistani politician was shot and killed on Saturday.

Pakistan's Dawn newspaper reports that Zahra Shahid Hussain, who was the senior vice president of Pakistan's Movement for Justice (PTI), was shot in the head during "an attempted robbery incident."

"According to police," Dawn reports, "robbers tried to steal Hussain's hand bag and opened gun fire upon resistance by the PTI leader outside her residence in Defence Housing Authority Phase-4."

Imran Khan, the celebrated former cricket player and the chairman of the PTI, blamed Hussain's death on Altaf Hussain, the leader of rival party MQM.

"I hold Altaf Hussain directly responsible for the murder as he had openly threatened PTI workers and leaders through public broadcasts," Khan said in a tweet. He continued: "Zara Apa's murder has further strengthened PTI's resolve to stand up against criminals and terrorists!"

Pakistan's Tribune adds:

"Shortly after the incident, the MQM chief issued a statement of his own where he condemned the murder and demanded that the government immediately arrest the culprits and accord them the most severe punishment as per law.

"Imran said Zara apa, as she was known to all within the party, was an old and senior Party leader who was a mentor to the PTI youth and a committed ideological leader of the Party.

" 'I am totally shocked and deeply saddened and still cannot believe anyone would kill such a gentle lady.' "

Pakistan had ordered a re-vote in 30 Karachi polling stations after reports of irregularities. The PTI party was among those complaining of voting irregularities.

As NPR's Julie McCarthy has reported, Zahra Shahid Hussain's PTI party has become a "third force in Pakistani politics."

Update on Sunday at 3:25 a.m. ET. Notes From Julie McCarthy:

McCarthy points out that Zahra Shahid Hussain's death adds to a list of allegations of intimidation against the MQM party. The party, she says, "has dominated Karachi politics amid long-standing allegations that it has employed violence and intimidation tactics to control parts of the city."

In regards to the re-vote in Karachi, McCarthy adds that members of the PTI party "led noisy street protests and activated a strong social media campaign against the handling of the [initial] election."

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