Balochistan minister shot dead in Quetta
By Malik Siraj Akbar
QUETTA: Unidentified gunmen killed Balochistan Education Minister Shafiq Ahmed Khan (55), a member of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), outside his residence in the provincial capital on Sunday – a day before the provincial government’s announcement to reopen all educational institutions in the province.
The Baloch Liberation United Front (BLUF) – an underground organisation that demands independence for Balochistan – claimed responsibility for the high-profile killing.
Police in Quetta said unidentified motorcyclists gunned down the provincial minister outside his residence on Thogai Road, while his brother’s father-in-law, Hydayat Jaffar, was injured in the same attack. The minister was shot in the head and torso, and died while being taken to hospital.
The ruling PPP has announced three days of mourning, and strongly condemned the killing. The minister’s assassination came two days after the Balochistan Assembly passed a resolution asking the centre to allow the duty-free import of bulletproof vehicles for ministers.
Born to Punjabi settlers, the slain minister vocally opposed target killings of teachers in Balochistan. According to him, “Indians and elements hiding in Afghanistan” are responsible for such killings.
In an interview with Daily Times on June 23 – commenting on the killing of Quetta’s Commerce College Principal Mirza Amant Ali Baig – the minister said, “Since India has increased the number of consulates in Afghanistan, troubles have enormously increased for us, as terrorists are coming from Afghanistan and getting full support from there.”
Born in Quetta, Shahfiq obtained a law degree from the provincial capital’s Law College, and practiced as a lawyer. He remained the finance chairman of the Quetta Municipal Committee for four years, in addition to serving as an elected councillor of Quetta’s Ward No 6 for 12 years. He also worked as the Chairman of Quetta Zakat Committee for three years, and acted as the president of the PPP’s Quetta wing.
Shafiq is the second minister from Balochistan to have been killed over the last two months.
Shafiq’s killing has been condemned by people from all walks of life – including President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Balochistan Governor Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Magsi and Chief Minister Nawab Muhammad Aslam Raisani. Businessmen and lawyers in Quetta have announced a complete shutter-down strike across Balochistan to condemn the killing, and lawyers said they would not attend proceedings of any court to mark a black day.
The slain minister would be laid to rest today (Monday) in Quetta. The Balochistan government has announced the closure of all educational institutions across the province to mourn the death of the minister.