A senior politician in former cricket star Imran Khan's Movement for Justice (PTI) party has been shot dead in Karachi. Nobody has claimed responsibility for her killing.
At least two gunmen on a motorcycle shot dead 59-year-old Zahra Shahid Hussain outside of her residence in the Defense neighborhood of Karachi on Saturday, a day before the southern port city was set for a revote of the May 11th general election.
"She thought they wanted to snatch her purse and handed it over to them but they killed her," Firdous Shamim, a local PTI leader, told the AFP news agency.
There have been conflicting police reports about whether Shahid was assassinated, or whether she was the victim of a robbery gone wrong.
Shahid was the vice president of PTI in Sindh province. She was also a founding member of PTI and the chief polling agent for the NA-250 constituency in Karachi, according to the Pakistan Today newspaper. Police said all the gunmen escaped after the attack.
"They shot her with one bullet near her chin and she could not survive," senior police official Nasir Aftab told AFP.
Khan points finger at MQM
Imran Khan, the head of PTI, said on Twitter that Shahid's murder had "sent shockwaves across the rank and file of the party." Khan went on to accuse the rival Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) leader, Altaf Hussain, of complicity in her murder.
"I hold Altaf Hussain directly responsible for the murder as he openly threatened PTI workers and leaders through public broadcasts," Khan said.
Altaf had recently given a speech in which many Pakistanis thought he was inciting political violence against MQM rivals. But he insists that his comments were taken out of context. MQM leaders held a press conference hours after Shahid's death to deny any involvement in her murder and to call on Khan to retract his comments.
Revote in Karachi
The Pakistan Election Commission has ordered a revote in Karachi, after allegations of vote rigging in the May 11th elections. Khan's PTI and the conservative-religious Jammat-e-Islami party have staged nationwide protests against the alleged electoral fraud.
Tensions are running high between the PTI and Karachi's dominant MQM. The MQM has denied allegations of rigging the election in Karachi and has boycotted the revote.
slk/ipj (AP, AFP)