|Bashir Bilour laid to rest amid moving scenes|
24 December 2012
PESHAWAR: Moving scenes were witnessed when the body of Bashir Ahmed Bilour, one of the most vocal persons against militancy in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, was lowered into a grave at the family’s ancestral graveyard here on Sunday.
Strict security measures were put in place at the Beri Bagh graveyard and the police had secured the place before the body was brought there in an ambulance for burial.
Earlier, despite fears of a terrorist act, thousands of party workers, lawmakers, educationists, lawyers, doctors and government functionaries attended the funeral prayer held at the Karnal Sher Khan Stadium.
The body was transported in an ambulance from the Bilour House, the residence of Bashir Bilour’s elder brother Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, to the army-managed stadium. Thousands of mourners accompanied the ambulance, wailing and chanting slogans of “Zinda Hay Bilour Zinda Hay”.
Foolproof security arrangements were made at the Bilour House and Karnal Sher Khan Stadium.
The Khyber Road, Fort Road and Mall Road were closed for traffic for the funeral procession. Scanners were installed at the entry point of the funeral site and every person was frisked before being let in. A large number of police and army contingents were deployed in the vicinity.
The coffin was wrapped in the national and ANP flags. A smartly turned-out contingent saluted the casket of the slain leader. Top government functionaries laid floral wreaths on the coffin.
Prominent among those who attended the funeral were Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Masood Kausar, Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti, ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) head Mahmood Khan Achakzai and Qaumi Watan Party chairman Aftab Sherpao.
Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar, federal ministers Rehman Malik, Shaukatullah, Dr Arbab Alamgir and Mazhar Gondal, PML-Q president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and his aide Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Speaker Kiramatullah Khan, PML-N senior vice-president Amir Muqam, general secretary Iqbal Zafar Jhagra and provincial president Pir Sabir Shah, PPP provincial president Anwar Saifullah Khan, JUI-F leader Akram Khan Durrani and senior politician Safdar Abbasi also attended the funeral.
The ANP leaders, members of the national and provincial assemblies, senators, federal and provincial ministers belonging to the ANP and PPP also offered the funeral prayer. Syed Noorul Hasnain Gilani led the funeral prayer.
Earlier, Bashir Bilour’s body was placed in a veranda at the Bilour House for ANP workers and others to catch the last glimpse of their leader. Emotional scenes were witnessed as hordes of people thronged the Bilour House to offer their condolences and pay last respects to the fallen leader.
Begum Nasim Wali Khan also visited the Bilour House and was seen crying after having the last glimpse of Bashir Bilour. A large number of women, including ANP lawmakers, also reached the Bilour House to mourn his death.
Provincial Minister for Information Mian Iftikhar Hussain, Minister for Sports Syed Aqil Shah and many others could not control their emotions and burst into tears.
Bashir Bilour’s elder son Haroon Bilour, who was in Dubai, reached Peshawar late Saturday night. Along with his younger brother Usman Bilour, he received the people who had come to offer Fateha.
The people lauded the courage and bravery of Bashir Bilour, who despite threats continued speaking out against the militants. The president of Pakistan had awarded the civil award for gallantry, Hilal-e-Shujaat, to Bashir Bilour last year in recognition of his courageous fight against militancy.
Gloom prevailed in Peshawar which lost its brave son and a champion of the city’s rights. The nation observed mourning and the national flag was flown at half-mast as per the announcement of the federal government. “We in Peshawar have become orphans. We have lost our hero in the war against terrorism,” ANP worker Khan Nazeer said.
“Bashir Bilour sacrificed his life for the nation. He didn’t bow to the militants and gave courage to the people to stand firm against the scourge of terrorism,” said Dr Mian Iftikhar Hussain, a leader of the Malgari Doctoran, an organisation of doctors affiliated with the ANP.
The ANP has announced mourning for 10 days and the provincial government for three days. Bilour’s Qul would be held today (Monday) at the Bilour House.
Our correspondent/agencies add: ANP president Asfandyar Wali, talking to media persons at the Bilour House, underscored the need for national unity to wipe out the menace of terrorism and militancy from the country.
The ANP chief said it was not the responsibility of a single political party or group to counter terrorism but the whole nation and political parties should stand united to get rid of this scourge.
Meanwhile, shutter down strike was observed in Quetta and other districts of Balochistan against the killing of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s senior minister Bashir Ahmed Bilour in a suicide attack. The ANP had called for a strike in the provincial capital against the assassination of Bashir Bilour and other martyrs in the Peshawar suicide blast.
All the major markets and trade centres of the city remained closed while traffic was also very thin.
Partial strike was also observed in other districts of the province and some other cities of the country and protest demonstrations were held to condemn the assassination of the KP senior minister. The historic Kissa Khawani Bazaar in Peshawar, where the blast occurred, was completely shut.
Heavy contingents of security personnel were deployed in different areas to avert any untoward incident.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned the suicide bombing in Peshawar that killed nine people, including Senior Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Minister Bashir Ahmed Bilour.
“The secretary-general strongly condemns the terrorist suicide bombing that killed Bashir Bilour,” said a statement by Ban’s spokesperson.
“He conveys his sincere condolences on this tragic loss,” the statement added.
The UN chief also reiterated strong support of the world body for the efforts of the government and people of Pakistan to combat the scourge of terrorism.
The United States also condemned the attack, saying the ANP leader had a vision for a secure and prosperous Pakistan.
“We are deeply saddened at the death of Senior Minister Bashir Ahmed Bilour and offer our condolences to his family and friends,” said US Ambassador Richard Olson in a statement.
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