People of Peshawar witnessed yet another dastardly incident of terror in which Awami National Party leader Barrister Haroon Bilour and dozens of his supporters were killed by a suicide attacker who is said to have detonated his explosive laden jacket soon after Barrister Bilour reached the venue of a corner meeting the ANP had arranged in connection with election campaign in the city’s YakaToot neighbourhood late night on Tuesday.
The martyred ANP candidate was set to contest the July 25 elections from Peshawar’s PK-78 constituency. According to reports 65 people were wounded in the explosion, and 15 of those were in a critical condition. Ironically the ANP candidate’s father late Bashir Ahmed Bilour, a prominent politician and a senior provincial minister was also killed in a suicide attack by the Taliban just months ahead of the last general elections, in 2013. ANP, which is known for its secular and progressive credentials, has been worst victim of terrorism since a long time; a large number of its workers were killed in suicide attacks. As a result of constant threats the party could not run its election campaign openly and effectively during the last general elections. Unfortunately the ghost of terror has raised its head again after a gap of five years and ANP is once again the target. The tragic death of Barrister Bilour has left the party leadership and its supporters shell-shocked while on the other it has sent shock waves across the country. As the incident took place at a time, when NACTA had issued threat alerts regarding the possible attacks on prominent political personalities by terrorists. Senate Standing Committee on Interior had already urged the interim government for providing foolproof security to the heads of parties and those for whom threat alerts were issued but the fact remains that security apparatus need to keep a close watch on hostile forces working against Pakistani state. Justice (retired) Sardar Mohammad Raza Khan, the chief election commissioner (CEC), while condemning the terrorist attack has said that the attack was a conspiracy against the transparent elections but at the same time he had hinted at “weakness of security institutions”.
Any ways it was a sad day, so many precious lives have been lost in the incident, there are a number of lessons to be learned but the one that is evident and explicit is that the country, which is facing so many challenges both at internal and external fronts, cannot afford any kind of chaos at this point of time. Realizing the gravity of situation it is incumbent upon the federal as well as provincial governments to provide fool-proof security to all candidates.