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Intelligence agencies to probe Sabeen Mahmud’s murder: ISPR

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ISLAMABAD:(APS) The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) condemned the killing of rights activist Sabeen Mahmud, who was brutally gunned down in Karachi a day earlier.

Director General ISPR, Asim Bajwa took to Twitter to post a short statement Saturday condemning the murder as “tragic and unfortunate”, adding that intelligence agencies have been tasked to assist in the investigation of the killing.

The ISPR statement comes as an apparent response to mounting criticism on social media in the aftermath of Mahmud’s murder.

Meanwhile, Karachi-South DIG Dr. Jamil Ahmed said, “It is a clear case of targeted killing and police are working on few possible motives of the murder.”

They were also looking into possibility of involvement of extremist organisations as they believe she was targeted for being a liberal female activist.

Secondly, the police assert that since stability was returning and law and order situation was improving in the city, an “enemy country or its intelligence agency” may have wanted to give a “complicated turn” to it by targeting a prominent rights activist.

They are also investigating whether her murder might be related to some “personal enmity”.

“These are some of the aspects on which the investigators are working,” said the South DIG.

To a question, Dr. Jamil Ahmed revealed that they have got feedback from her injured mother and friends of slain Sabeen Mehmud who disclosed that that she has been receiving threats for the last ‘four to six weeks.’

Through these threats on her mobile phone, Sabeen was asked to “suspend her activities”, said the police officer. He said that they would get the mobile phone record of the slain activist and would also try to get CCTV footage from the crime scene to get any clue about identity of the attackers.

Mahmud was shot dead in Karachi Friday as she made her way home after hosting a seminar about human rights abuses in Balochistan.

The seminar titled “Un-silencing Balochistan Take 2”, featured two prominent Baloch rights activists, Mama Abdul Qadeer and Farzana Baloch, among other speakers.

Earlier this month, a similar seminar scheduled to take place at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) was cancelled after officials from security agencies reportedly warned university management to call off the talk.

The talk at LUMS was slated to feature Baloch human rights activist Qadeer, who is known for highlighting cases of enforced disappearance of Baloch activists which rights groups accuse the military and intelligence agencies of kidnapping and killing.

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Mahmud, who ran ‘The Second Floor’, a cafe that organises debates and art events, had just left the venue with her mother when her car was attacked by gunmen in Karachi’s Defence neighbourhood.

Mahmud was hit by five bullets and died at the scene, police said. Her mother was critically injured and was shifted to a hospital where her condition is now reported to be out of danger.

Friends and well-wishers devastated by Mahmud’s brutal killing have taken to Twitter and Facebook to share fond memories and heartfelt tributes.

Profile — Sabeen Mahmud

By Maleeha Hamid Siddiqui

Peace activist and founder of T2F Sabeen Mahmud, who died from gunshot wounds on Friday, was a woman of many talents that mostly revolved around creating digital platforms for arts and culture.

An only child of an educationist mother and advertising professional father, Ms Mahmud was born in Karachi and received her early education from Karachi Grammar School. After completing her O levels, she went to Lahore to get a Bachelor’s degree from the well-known Kinnaird College. After returning to Karachi, she joined a technology company Solutions Unlimited, headed by Zaheer Kidvai, who went on to become her life-long mentor and a close friend.

The company that also included Jehan Ara, president of the Pakistan Software Houses Association, created pioneering multimedia CDs in the late 1990s. Her passion and drive led her to head her own company Beyond Information Technology Solutions, an interactive media and technology consulting firm which she set up with the help of her mentor whom she lovingly called Zak. She also helped establish The Citizens Archive of Pakistan along with Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and was also the president of The Indus Entrepreneurs.

According to an interview, Ms Mahmud said her biggest dream was to change the world for the better through the internet and communication technologies and T2F was part of that dream.

She set up The Second Floor (T2F) as part of her non-profit umbrella called PeaceNiche of which T2F was her first major project in 2007.

The watering hole soon started organising talks, discussions, exhibitions, pioneering events (Pakistan’s first hackathon, stand-up comedy acts) with prominent local and international artists, writers and activists that it became essential for nearly everyone to attend these events at T2F as Ms Mahmud passionately worked for it day and night from fundraising, marketing to building maintenance.

An amateur sitar player and founder member of the All Pakistan Music Conference, Ms Mahmud not only organised music programmes but also gave space to music educationists at T2F.

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