ISLAMABAD/KARACHI - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has directed the Sindh police to investigate the assassination of renowned rights activist Sabeen Mahmud and extended condolences to the bereaved family.

The prime minister, who is in United Kingdom on a visit, asked the authorities concerned to investigate the incident and submit to him a report, said a statement from the PM’s Media office.

In a bid to placate the outrage on social media over the murder of Sabeen Mahmud – who was gunned down in Karachi on Friday – Pakistan Army took to twitter to condemn the assassination.

Ms Mahmud became hashtag on Twitter after being killed by unknown assailants soon after she hosted a discussion on human rights abuses in Balochistan and was shot dead while on her way home along with her mother, who was also wounded in the attack by unidentified bikers.

Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Maj-Gen Asim Bajwa posted a tweet Saturday condemning the killing and terming it tragic and unfortunate. “Our heart goes out to the bereaved family at this sad moment,” he said.

While the outrage on social media linked the murder of Ms Mahmud with those depriving justice to Baloch community, the ISPR said it had tasked intelligence agencies to render all possible assistance to civilian agencies for apprehending the perpetrators and bringing them to justice.

Karachi South DIG Dr Jamil Ahmed had told media that an enemy country or its intelligence agency might be behind the assassination of Sabeen Mehmud, who was a human rights activist, social media campaigner and the director of social forum The Second Floor (T2F).

The US Embassy in Islamabad on Saturday also came up with a strong condemnation of the killing of the human rights activists saying the United States strongly condemns the murder of Sabeen and the wounding of her mother.

“We extend our deepest condolences to her loved ones and our wishes for her mother’s full and speedy recovery. Sabeen was a courageous voice of the Pakistani people and her death represents a great loss,” a statement issued by US Embassy in Islamabad said.

PPP’s Mian Raza Rabbani on Saturday strongly condemned the target killing of Sabeen Mahmud. Expressing deep grief and sorrow over the target killing of the rights activist on Friday evening in Defence Phase-II Karachi, he said that the port city has lost one of its greatest assets. He stated that it was an attack on freedom of speech and expression and nothing can justify this inhuman killing.

The acting president of PPP, which rules Sindh province, directed Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah to submit the report on the brutal murder immediately and arrest the perpetrators within 72 hours. Rabbani also directed the authorities concerned to ensure provision of best medical treatment to Sabeen’s mother, who sustained bullet wounds in the cowardly attack. Offering his condolences to the bereaved family, he said that the whole nation stood by them in this hour of great tragedy.

The murder of Sabeen Mahmud came at a time when peace has barely restored in Karachi and an operation is ongoing in the city against militants and criminals. Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), which holds much political power in the city, has condemned Sabeen Mahmud’s killing and demanded the government bring the perpetrators to justice.

T2F, described as a community space for open dialogue, was Sabeen’s brainchild where she had hosted on Friday a talk on Balochistan – ‘Unsilencing Balochistan Take 2: In Conversation with Mama Qadeer, Farzana Baloch and Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur.

Meanwhile, additional inspector general of Karachi police, while taking notice of Sabeen Mahmood’s assassination formed an investigation team.

Deputy Inspector General (DIG) South Dr Jameel has been designated to supervise the probe process while senior superintendent of police (SSP) South, SSP investigation South, SDP and SHP Defence have been included in the team.

The South SSP said Sabeen had been receiving threats. He said her phone call record would be checked in order to get to the bottom of this horrific murder.

It is worth noting here that Sabeen had been active for human rights, especially for the missing persons of Balochistan.

According to Sabeen’s postmortem, the bullet that hit her neck proved fatal. Police said she sustained two bullets at her chest and one each at neck and face.