It was in a sea of red caps, teary eyes and defiant slogans that the ANP’s Haroon Bilour was given his last rites and sent to his maker. The ECP has already announced that the elections in the PK-78 constituency will be delayed in wake of the candidate’s violent death, and it seemed that the city of Peshawar as a whole came out to say goodbye to yet another Bilour.
It was just the previous election cycle where Haroon’s father Bashir Ahmed Bilour was killed in a similar explosion. Haroon had vowed to carry on his father’s mission, and he has tragically met his late father’s sacrifice.
Whatever one may say about the ANP’s politics, the Bilours have had it tough. These are two generations that have now been snuffed out. With both father and son gone, it was Ghulam Ahmed Bilour’s grief that was gut-wrenching to watch. Frail as he is, he has survived a brother, a son and a nephew. That is a heavy toll on any man.
One should remember that our politicians are human at the end of the day. Yes, politics is a dangerous business anywhere, but it is especially so in Pakistan. And when you willingly paint a target on your back to take a stand, as the ANP has done, tragedy befalls.
The ANP is in shock. Although Bilour was a careful and aware politician, he was well liked and very young. ANP workers have now been chanting slogans previously only heard at PTM rallies, and the party is in a fix over this.
But as an emotional Asfandyar Wali mentioned talking to the press, you can’t begin to compare terrorists to ‘umpires.’ Reminds you that there is more than one threat to democracy in the country, and all of the politicians taking a stand for it are fighting the good fight – policy and ideology aside.
This is the first blood of this election cycle. Everyone is desperately hoping that there will not be any more. But whatever happens, Haroon Bilour is gone, another martyr to democracy. We can now only pray for Pakistan, for Peshawar and for the Bilours.
LATEST ON THE RETURN:
It’s all happening. Mian Nawaz is stepping up the rhetoric, saying that even though he can already see jail bars he is returning to honour the vote. The NAB has requested a helicopter to airlift the Sharifs straight from the Lahore airport. None of this is stopping the League from gathering their supporters and preparing to welcome Mian Nawaz back to Lahore. It’s going to be the force of the state versus the League, and the Noonis aren’t going down without making some noise.
PLAYING IT SMOOTHLY:
Asif Ali Zardari and Faryal Talpur’s response to the NAB is priceless. We’re busy, they say, there are election campaigns to run. You’ll get our response after July 25. That seems to have left the Bureau in a bit of a stupor because Zardari is having none of it. He’ll get done with the polls and then see what happens. One problem at a time it is.