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Famed qawwal Amjad Sabri gunned down in Karachi

Amjad Sabri’s killer reportedly arrested

KARACHI: Renowned qawwal Amjad Sabri, 45, was shot dead in Karachi on Wednesday, two days after masked men kidnapped the son of a top provincial judge.

Officials said two gunmen shot at the windscreen of Sabri’s car as it drove off a bridge in the congested Liaquatabad area of the city, and a relative, Saleem Sabri, travelling with him was also injured.

“Two attackers riding a motorcycle intercepted his car and targeted Amjad Sabri, who was driving,” Sindh police chief Allah Dino Khawaja told media.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Sabri was rushed to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

“Amjad Sabri expired on the way to the hospital,” police surgeon Rohina Hasan said. “He was shot three times.”

“It was a targeted killing and an act of terrorism,” Muqaddas Haider, another senior police officer said, without naming possible suspects.

Liaquatabad SHO was suspended following the attack. Sindh Home Minister Sohail Anwar Siyal ordered an immediate inquiry into the incident.

His killing was met with shock and condemnation by many. “Totally shocked to hear the news of @AmjadSabri. May Allah bless him with Jannah (heaven) for he praised Him & His Prophet beautifully all his life,” tweeted Ayaz Sadiq, the speaker of Pakistan’s parliament.

“Shocked and saddened by news of the killing of Amjad Sabri, not just a crime but an attack on our culture and heritage,” added Mustafa Qadri, a human rights researcher at Amnesty International.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the attack. Acting president Raza Rabbani termed Sabri’s murder ‘unfortunate.’

In a statement issued soon after the killing, Rabbani said he hoped the Sindh government would take very possible step to arrest the culprits.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement leader Farooq Sattar said Sabris muder had left many questions on touted success of Karachi operation.

“We have always pointed out that Karachi has many domains of extremist elements. These extremists kill people whenever they want,” he said.

Sattar also stressed that just two days ago Sindh High Court Chief Justice’s son was kidnapped despite the Karachi operation going on. “This creates an atmosphere of fear and mistrust among people.”


Violence is common in Karachi despite a sharp decline in murders since the military launched a crackdown two years ago against suspected militants and violent criminals.

On Monday, a lawyer, the son of Sindh High Court Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, was abducted outside a city supermarket.

In May, gunmen shot dead prominent Pakistani rights activist Khurram Zaki, known for his outspoken stance against the Taliban and other radical Islamist groups, in the central part of the city.

In April last year, prominent activist Sabeen Mahmud was shot and killed while travelling in her car.

In May 2014 he was asked by a court to respond to blasphemy charges following the airing of a controversial song-and-dance routine that was set to a Qawwali piece about the wedding of the Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) daughter to his cousin.

Amjad Sabri, 45, was the scion of the great Sabri brothers, who cemented a unique identity in Qawwali singing all around the world.

The Sabri family rose to fame in the 1970s when the dynamic duo of Ghulam Farid Sabri and Maqbool Ahmed Sabri went on to redefining the old genre of Qawwali singing.

It was Amjad who took the reins from his father Ghulam Farid and Uncle Maqbool Sabri and took the family name forward carving a more popular and less niche identity for himself and his family.

Some of the most famous works of the Sabri brothers include Tajdar-e-Haram and Bhar Do Jholi, both of which have been re-rendered by Amjad for the modern audiences.

One thing that always stood out about Amjad was that despite hailing from a family of musicians, he never restricted his contributions to the music industry at large and always remained a seminal part of artist’s protests, celebrations at large.

Whether it was lending his family’s Qawwali to Coke Studio or playing for the celebrity team at a Ramazan cricket match, Amjad could be seen everywhere that too in full spirit.

In his last conversation with The Express Tribune, the late Qawwal was very excited about his song in the upcoming season of Coke Studio. His loss has been felt beyond borders, ideologies and art forms.

The lineup of Coke Studio 9 was supposed to be officially revealed today but has been held back due to the musician’s sad demise.

Sabri was embroiled in a controversy last year when he claimed that Bajrangi Bhaijaan violated copyrights by using the qawwali Bhar Do Jholi without obtaining the rights.

The singer had said that he intended to file a case against the film’s director, Kabir Khan, and the playback singer for using the song without his permission.

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