Renowned Qawwal Amjad Sabri was shot dead in Karachi on Wednesday afternoon.
Additional Inspector General Mushtaq Mehar told Dawn that two men riding a motorcycle fired shots at Sabri’s car. He termed the incident “targeted killing.”
Sabri (45) and an associate were travelling in the car in Liquatabad 10 area when the gunmen opened fire, critically injuring him. The two were shifted to Abbasi Shaheed hospital immediately, where Sabri died of his injuries.
Ghulam Ahmed, an eyewitness told SAMAA TV he saw two motorcycle riding men firing 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 ear – police sources said.
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
In 2014, Dawn reported, the Islamabad Hight Court (IHC) had issued a notice in a blasphemy case to Sabri along with two TV channels for the playing of a qawwali during a morning show.
The traditional qawwali sung by 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 Sabri and the lyricist for the blasphemy row while seeking to ban the qawwali that caused the issue.
The court had also issued notice to the Federal Information Secretary, the chief executive of ARY, anchors Mubashir Lucman, Nida Yasir and Shaisata Lodhi, the chairman of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) and the Chairman pf the Cable Operators Association of Pakistan.
The Sabri legacy
Sabri was the nephew of qawwali icon Maqbool Sabri, who passed away in 2011.
Maqbool Sabr,i 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).