Kashmiris protest at killing of Sardar Arif Shahid

By Zulfiqar Ali
BBC Urdu, Islamabad

Image source, BBC/Malik Zulfiqar
Image caption,
Protesters alleged Mr Shahid was killed by Pakistan's army or intelligence

Protesters have taken to the streets in various parts of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, angry at the killing of a pro-independence Kashmiri leader.

Sardar Arif Shahid was shot dead by unidentified men near his home in Rawalpindi on Monday night.

It is the first time that a pro-independence Kashmiri leader has been targeted in this way in Pakistan.

Mr Shahid led the All Parties National Alliance (APNA), which advocates independence from India and Pakistan.

Both countries claim the region, which is divided between them across a ceasefire line known as the Line of Control.

Image source, BBC/Malik Zulfiqar
Image caption,
Witnesses told the BBC of injuries among protesters in Hajira

Witnesses told the BBC at least five people had been injured in Mr Shahid's native town of Hajira, which is close to the border, when police fired teargas shells and baton-charged protesters.

Demonstrations were also held in other cities and towns in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Protesters carried banners with slogans against the Pakistani army and the ISI intelligence service, which they blamed for the killing.

'Pool of blood'

Mr Shahid's driver, Rizwan Khan, told the BBC he saw a man running from the scene of Monday night's shooting with a gun in his hand.

"I drove Mr Shahid home last night, and got out of the car to open the gate of his house. That's when I heard the shooting.

"I ran towards the car, and found him lying in a pool of blood," he said.

The politician was taken to a military hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Mr Shahid was a vocal critic of Pakistan's alleged role in sending militants to fight a "proxy war" against India in Indian-administered Kashmir. He also criticised Pakistan's policy of treating Kashmir as its "colony".

Image caption,
Sardar Arif Shahid was an outspoken critic of Pakistan's Kashmir policy

The Pakistani government banned him from travelling abroad in 2009, and later confiscated his passport and other identification documents.

The Ministry of Interior told a court in December 2012 that his documents had been confiscated due to his "anti-state activities and on the recommendation of the director-general of the ISI intelligence service".

Three months ago, police in Rawalpindi registered a case against him for publishing a monthly magazine which it is alleged contained anti-Pakistan material.

He was given pre-arrest bail by the court in that case.

A spokesman for the APNA, MA Khalique, told the BBC that Mr Shahid was "the victim of targeted killing by some state actors".

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