PESHAWAR: The Awami National Party (ANP) has decided to nominate Samar Bilour, the widow of former party leader Haroon Bilour, to contest elections for the provincial assembly seat PK-78 Peshawar.
Opposition parties have also decided to throw their weight behind her for the upcoming polls.
Elections on the constituency had been postponed by the apex poll body after a suicide bomber targeted her husband — a candidate for the seat — on July 11 just as he left a corner meeting in the Yakatoot area of the city. The attack killed Haroon among 22 others and left over 60 people injured.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had scheduled for October 14 by-elections on seats which were vacated by successful parliamentarians who had won on multiple seats or for seats where elections had been postponed or where the results had been cancelled.
The decision was taken by the parliamentary board of the Awami National Party (ANP) which met at the Bacha Khan Markaz, the party’s secretariat in Peshawar. ANP’s Deputy General Secretary Aimal Wali Khan, Syed Shahid Raza, Sardar Hussain Babak, attended the meeting.
During the meeting, ANP also announced candidates for five more constituencies across the province where by-elections will be held.
Waqar Ahmad Khan has been nominated to contest PK-7 in Swat, Ghulam Hasan for PK-44 in Swabi, Ahmad Bahadur for PK-53 in Mardan, Pervez Ahmad Khan for PK-61 in Nowshera, and Shahid Khattak for PK-64 in Nowshera.
Later on Tuesday, nomination papers for Samar were collected by her family from the district election commissioner’s office.
District Election Commissioner Abdul Qadir said that so far only one candidate had collected nomination papers and that no new candidate had appeared on the first day of filing papers.
Qadir further said that before being postponed, 17 candidates had submitted their papers for PK-78. As per the rules, those who have previously submitted their nomination papers and were included in the final list of candidates are not required to re-submit their papers. However, if a candidate wishes to withdraw from the elections, this was the time to do so.
Who is Samar Bilour?
While Samar is new to politics, her family has strong roots in the political history of the country.
Apart from being the wife of late Haroon Bilour — the son of ANP stalwart Bashir Bilour — she is the daughter of former Sindh provincial minister Irfanullah Khan Marwat and granddaughter of former Pakistan president Ghulam Ishaq Khan.
With Haroon’s son Daniyal just 16-years-old, he is ineligible to contest the elections. Hence, Samar has decided to carry her family’s banner in the upcoming by-polls.
“She will take the mission of Bilour family ahead,” said Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, the central leader of ANP and Haroon’s paternal uncle.
“The Bilour family has rendered tremendous sacrifices for peace and democracy in the country,” Ghulam said.
The ANP urged all other candidates in the running for PK-78 to withdraw to defeat the enemies of democracy.
Opposition parties to back Samar
All the opposition parties in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) assembly have announced that they will support Samar in the PK-78 by-elections.
The joint opposition held a meeting with ANP’s leadership on Tuesday after which they held a presser in which they announced that political parties in the joint opposition, including the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), and Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) will not field any candidates on PK-78.
“We will decide about the rest of the seats in by-elections on party position. We are in contact with the opposition parties regarding the by-elections and we are receiving a positive response,” said ANP leader Mian Iftikhar Hussain.
He added that the opposition parties will need to unite for democracy. He also urged the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) to withdraw its presidential candidate, Aitzaz Ahsan, in favour of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman.
“We are not in a minority if we are united,” he stated.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Provincial President Amir Muqam requested all the parties to support Samar in the upcoming by-elections and elect her unopposed.
“The Bilour family has rendered sacrifices and this act of political parties will give a positive message,” he said.
Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal’s (MMA) Akram Khan Durrani, who is a former chief minister of the province, said that the decision to drop candidates in favour of Haroon Bilour’s widow was taken as per the traditions of the province.
Regarding the presidential elections, Durrani said, “former president of Pakistan and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari is a good friend of Maulana Fazlur Rehman and we hope he will withdraw his candidate in his favour to make him a mutually agreed candidate of opposition.”
Meanwhile, the PPP also decided to withdraw its candidate for PK-78. Ghulam announced that PPP leader Farhatullah Babar had conveyed to him via PPP’s provincial president Zulfiqar Afghani that the party will not contest PK-78 in the upcoming by-polls and that their candidate will withdraw his nomination papers.
“This decision of the PPP is a slap on the face of the enemies of humanity, democracy, and politics,” Ghulam said while expressing his gratitude to the PPP leadership.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 29th, 2018.