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A musical farewell to maestro Amjad Sabri

Tearful mourners throng Karachi streets for Sufi singer Amjad Sabri's funeral and sing his songs to pay tribute to the qawwal

Karachi: Thousands of tearful mourners, including women and children, yesterday 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.

Pakistani mourners gather around an ambulance carrying the coffin of Sufi musician Amjad Sabri during his funeral in Karachi yesterday.
Pakistani mourners gather around an ambulance carrying the coffin of Sufi musician Amjad Sabri during his funeral in Karachi yesterday.

His funeral prayers were held in a mosque of Liaquatabad area where the 45-year-old was attacked yesterday 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.

People look on as the ambulance approaches the graveyard. Pics/AFP
People look on as the ambulance approaches the graveyard. Pics/AFP

“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 yesterday.

Amjad Sabri
Amjad Sabri

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 qawaal, demanded the government arrest the killers of his brother. “It is the 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. Some of his most memorable qawwalis were ‘Bhar Do Jholi Meri’, ‘Tajdar-i-Haram’ and ‘Mera Koi Nahin Hai Tere Siwa’.

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.

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