PESHAWAR: President of Awami National Party (ANP) Asfandyar Wali on Wednesday said that the party vows to continue the battle against terrorism and fight for democracy following the martyrdom of ANP leader Haroon Bilour.
The party also announced to suspend party activities for three days in mourning. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf also cancelled party activity in the province for a day.
At least 20 people, including Awami National Party’s (ANP) Haroon Bilour, were martyred and 63 others injured in a suicide bombing targetting the party’s rally in a congested neighbourhood of Peshawar late Tuesday night.
The attacker detonated his explosive belt close to the ANP leader’s vehicle as he approached a rally organised to promote his election in the Yakatoot area of the provincial capital. Rescue teams and security officials shifted the deceased and injured to the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) soon after the attack.
Wali further requested all workers to hoist a black band with the party flag in solidarity with all those impacted in the attack. “However, everyone is reminded that we will not step back from the elections,” he added. “Our party is being cornered, no one can call these elections fair and free after the attack yesterday.”
Visibly shook with events unravelling, Wali said: “Our patience is being tested. I appeal to the workers to remain peaceful. Our workers are martyred. I have no words to express condolences.” The ANP president further went on to say that Haroon was like a brother to him. “His father was earlier martyred. Then we saw the body of Shabir. Someone asked me why Bilour family is being targeted. I told him that it is because Bilour family is the symbol of peace and stability in Peshawar.”
Responding to questions on the perpetrator of the attack, Wali refrained from pointing fingers. “It’s not right to call an attacker as a member of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. If anyone is brave enough, I will ask them to attack us from the front, not from behind,” he added.
Haroon’s father, Bashir Bilour was also martyred in a suicide bombing targeting his rally in the fabled Qissa Khawani bazaar of Peshawar in December 2012. The outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan had claimed responsibility for the attack.
However, he pledged the party’s full participation in the elections. “We will not leave the field. If anyone gets martyred or jailed, we will not step back. We will resume the election activities after three days,” the ANP president said. He further added that while conspirators are trying to throw the party out of the election race. “I warn them that we will not step back from elections at any cost.”