Thousands of tearful mourners, including women and children, on Thursday thronged the streets of Pakistan’s largest city and sang the soul-stirring renditions of Amjad Sabri as they paid tributes to one of the country’s finest sufi qawwals who was killed by Taliban militants.
His funeral prayers were held in a mosque of Liaquatabad area where the 45-year-old was attacked on Wednesday by two unidentified bike-borne gunmen.
The grieving mourners included members of Sabri’s family, friends and fans. They threw rose petals over an ambulance carrying his coffin and later followed the vehicle to the graveyard, where he was buried near the grave of his father Ghulam Farid Sabri, a leading qawwal of his time.
“There were thousands of people in the funeral,” police official Muhammad Ali said.
He said some people were singing his famous qawwalis.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Hakimullah Masood group, which has said it was against any form of Sufism, has claimed responsibility for the fatal attack on Sabri on Wednesday.
Since Sabri’s killing, grief and anger have gripped Pakistan with TV channels and the print media highlighting the spate of lawlessness in the country’s largest city.
Police have so far been unable to find any clue about the gunmen behind the attack on Sabri, who was shot in the chest and head. He was shifted to a hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.
Sarwat Sabri, a brother of the slain qawwal, demanded the government to arrest the killers of his brother.
“It is responsibility of the government to provide security to everyone,” he said.
According to police, Sabri was the only target of the killers who spared another person travelling with the singer.
Sabri’s death brings to an end a legacy in qawwali a mystic art as the deceased belonged to a family of distinguished exponents of qawwali.
He was the nephew of qawwali icon Maqbool Sabri who passed away in 2011. Some of his most memorable qawwalis were ‘Bhar Do Jholi Meri’, ‘Tajdar-i-Haram’ and ‘Mera Koi Nahin Hai Teray Siwa’.
Maqbool Sabri along with his brother, the late Ghulam Farid Sabri, formed a formidable qawwali group in the mid-50s and became known for their soul-stirring renditions of arifana kalam (mystic poetry).
Amjad Sabri was keeping the family tradition alive and was one of the most sought-after qawwals of the country.
Karachi has been in grip of violence for years but the situation improved after paramilitary Frontier Corps launched operation in September 2013.
The latest killing shows that despite apparent calm, the city still faces the threat of resurgence of violence and targeted killings.
Image: People throw flower petals on the ambulance carrying the body of Amjad Sabri, killed when unidentified gunmen open fire on his car in Karachi, Pakistan. Photograph: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters