Renowned Qawwal Amjad Sabri was shot dead in Karachi Wednesday afternoon, after unknown assailants fired at his vehicle in the city's Liaquatabad area.
Additional Inspector General Mushtaq Mehar told Dawn that two men riding a motorcycle fired shots at the car, terming the incident as "targeted killing.” He said the motive of the killing is unknown as of now.
According to Dawn report, Sabri, 45, and an associate were travelling in a car in Liquatabad 10 area, when unidentified gunmen fired at their vehicle, critically injuring him. The two were shifted to Abbasi Shaheed hospital immediately, where Sabri succumbed to his injuries.
Ghulam Ahmed, an eye witness told SAMAA TV he saw two motorcycle riding men fire shots at one side of the car. "Then they turned and fired four shots on the other side of the car.”
Additional police surgeon Dr Rohina Hasan confirmed Sabri's demise. He was shot thrice – twice in the head and once on the face – police sources said.
Fakhre Alam, Chairman of Sindh Censor Board, has claimed in a tweet that Sabri had earlier submitted an application for security, but the home department did not act on it.
Chief Minister Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah has taken notice of the incident and ordered IG Sindh to submit a report regarding the assassination.
Amjad Sabri was one of the country’s finest qawwals, known for his soul-stirring renditions of mystic poetry. He enthralled music aficionados with his brand of spirituality, mysticism and ecstasy for years. He was not only well-versed with the structure and aesthetics of qawwali but also knew how to make it adaptive to the contemporary music keeping its essence alive.
Amjad Sabri and blasphemy
Earlier in 2014, Dawn reported the Islamabad Hight Court (IHC) had issued a notice in a blasphemy case to Amjad Sabri along with two TV channels for the playing of a qawwali during a morning show.
The traditional qawwali sung by Amjad Sabri had mentioned religious figures, which was deemed offensive.
After a blasphemy case was registered against Geo News, advocate Tariq Asad had put the onus on Qawwal Amjad Sabri and the lyricist for the blasphemy row while seeking to ban the qawwali that caused the issue.
The court had also issued notices to Federal Information Secretary, chief executive of ARY, anchors Mubashir Lucman, Nida Yasir and Shaisata Lodhi, chairman of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) and Chairman Cable Operators Association of Pakistan.
The Sabri legacy
Amjad Sabri was the nephew of qawwali icon Maqbool Sabri who passed away in 2011.
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).
Maqbool’s nephew Amjad Sabri — who was tragically shot dead today in Karachi — was keeping the family tradition alive and was one of the most sought-after qawwals of the country.
Almost whatever the Sabri brothers sang became an instant hit. But some of their most memorable and famous qawwalis were Bhar Do Jholi Meri, Tajdar-i-Haram and Mera Koi Nahin Hai Teray Siwa.
They were equally well-versed in compositions made in the Persian language and sang Nami Danam Che Manzil Bood with equal ease and facility. The brothers’ rendition of Hazrat Amir Khusrau’s kalam was one of their marked areas of excellence.