Top cleric escapes, two guards killed in gun attack in Pakistan’s Karachi

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Mufti Taqqi Usmani's Vehicle targeted by unidentified armed men (Photo Courtesy: Arab News)
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Police chief of district east, Amir Farooqui, meeting Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani at hospital after assassination bid on his life here on Friday, March 22, 2019. ( Photo by Sindh Police)
Updated 22 March 2019

Top cleric escapes, two guards killed in gun attack in Pakistan’s Karachi

  • Darul Uloom’s Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani unhurt in attack on convoy by four gunmen
  • Scholar Maulana Amir Shahabullah in critical condition

KARACHI: Prominent Pakistani cleric Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani narrowly escaped while religious scholar Maulana Amir Shahabullah was critically wounded in a gun attack on their convoy in the port city of Karachi on Friday, police said.

Two guards were killed in the attacks that city police chief Dr Amir Shaikh said could have a sectarian motive but were more likely an attempt to kill a major religious figure in Karachi “to terrorise the people.”

Both clerics are affiliated with the Darul Uloom seminary in Karachi. Usmani is also a former judge of the Supreme Court Shariah court and a permanent member of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy, an organ of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

“Mufti Taqi Usmani has remained safe in the attack,” Shaikh said, adding that both incidents occurred within ten to twenty minutes of each other on the Nipa flyover in the seaside metropolis.

The head of Karachi’s Counter-Terrorism Department, Raja Umar Khattab, said four gunmen on two motorbikes opened fire on two cars that were travelling together. He said Usmani was the main target.

Saud Usmani, Usmani’s nephew, said the cleric’s wife and two grandchildren were also present in the car but escaped unhurt “as the driver continued to drive despite being hurt.”

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has ordered the immediate arrest of the attackers and sought a report from police.

On this Eid Al-Adha, no Qurbani without face mask

Updated 11 July 2020

On this Eid Al-Adha, no Qurbani without face mask

  • Cattle markets will be set up away from cities and buyers will have to wear face masks and gloves
  • The National Command and Operation Center also wants compulsory testing for animal handlers

ISLAMABAD: The National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) prepared guidelines regarding the sale of sacrificial animals on Eid Al-Adha after consulting different stakeholders, senior government functionaries informed Arab News on Saturday, adding that the instructions were specifically designed to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus and would be implemented with the help of district administrations.

The NCOC on Friday suggested setting up cattle markets about two to four kilometers outside of cities. It also insisted on compulsory testing of animal handlers and banned potential buyers from entering these marketplaces without face masks.

The NCOC, the top government institution responsible for preparing a coherent national strategy to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, also limited the timings of cattle markets, saying they would only be allowed to operate during the day. It also called for social distancing and said that thermal scanners must be installed at all entry points of animal markets.

“Keeping in mind our experience of Eid al-Fitr, we will have to be quite vigilant this time,” said Dr. Muhammad Zaeem Zia, Islamabad’s district health officer who regularly attends NCOC meetings. “It is not enough to issue precautionary measures since such guidelines also need to be properly implemented.”

“The health ministry and local administrations are working very closely to prevent the spread of the virus during the sale and purchase of animals,” he continued. “The guidelines issued by the health ministry and NCOC are for the whole country and all provinces must abide by them.”

Deputy Commissioner Islamabad Muhammad Hamza Shafqaat said his administration had also provided its input to the NCOC during the preparation of these guidelines.

“We gave our recommendations to the NCOC and suggested ways to implement the guidelines. We also constituted a joint team of the Capital Development Authority, Municipal Corporation, Islamabad administration and police,” he told Arab News, adding that elderly people and children would not be allowed to enter animal markets.

“The administration will ensure implementation of physical distancing, wearing of masks and gloves, frequent disinfection of places and other precautionary measures,” Shafqaat continued.

President of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Society of Pakistan Dr. Bushra Jameel told Arab News that it was essential to restrict unnecessary movement of animals and people under the circumstances to curb the spread of the infectious respiratory disease.

“It is a good step to move these animal markets outside of cities,” she said, “but the government should provide necessary facilities to people who want to buy these animals. It is also essential to ensure social distancing and implement other precautionary measures. Otherwise, the country may experience yet another surge of infections.”

“I have been buying animals ahead of Eid Al-Adha for the last ten years. However, it seems that it will be a tough and expensive experience this time since we will have to go quite far away to make our purchase,” said Usman Zahoor, a resident of Rawalpindi. “I wonder if setting up these markets so far away from cities will prevent the virus from entering them.”

“It would have been much better if the government had decided to use empty spaces within cities – such as parks etc – to set up animal markets,” he continued. “It would have made life much easier for customers as well.”