PESHAWAR: As the annual list of names for civil awards recipients was unveiled last week, more than a few eyebrows were raised in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa over one name which was not included. That name, conspicuous by its absence, was of Haroon Ahmed Bilour, the slain scion of slain Awami National Party (ANP) leader Bashir Ahmed Bilour.
Haroon, like his father before him, was killed while campaigning on July 10, 2018, just over a fortnight from the general elections on July 25. Coincidentally, both were contesting the same constituency — PK-78.
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Eventually, Haroon’s wife Samar was elected from the seat her husband was due to contest.
But more than an award for gallantry, the Bilour family is still waiting for the logical resolution to the attacks on their family which have taken a heavy toll.
“The family have been promised an investigation into the fatal attack on Haroon, but little headway has been made over the past year, while family too has been dissatisfied with the investigation process,” a former police officer admitted to The Express Tribune while requesting anonymity.
“The provincial leader of ANP, Bashir Bilour, too had been killed in the similar suicide attack,” recounted Nighat, the wife of the slain ANP leader Bashir, told The Express Tribune. She added that almost all political leaders have visited her family to express solidarity with them.
All but Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) supremo and incumbent Prime Minister Imran Khan.
They have not expressed their sympathy with the family, she added.
“The family never wanted, nor needs such an [civil] award, but my son has been targeted for his political thoughts, his political vision and standing for the residents of Peshawar, at least, his name should be selected for the honour,” Nighat said.
“My husband and my son were both leaders of public sentiments, political figures of the provincial capital, who always stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of the city,” she said, adding that curiously, the PTI leadership accepts and acknowledges the scarifies of their family in private, but they dare not stand against their party chairman in public.
“Political differences and honouring a person for his scarifies are two different issues, he should be nominated for what the family offered to the people and the country, what they achieved through shedding their own blood for the country,” Nighat said, arguing that this is why Haroon must be given a civil award.
When asked whether Haroon’s name had been recommended for a civil award, given how Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) candidate for provincial assembly Siraj Raisani — who too was martyred when a pre-election rally was targeted by a suicide bomber leaving over 120 people dead — was nominated for a Sitara-i-Shujaat (gallantry), K-P Information Minister Shaukat Yousafzai told The Express Tribune that he did not have any information regarding the awards list or the criteria for selecting people for the award
“It is the task of a committee, they have the mandate to select or de-list any person,” he offered.
“The award has nothing to do with the provincial government, is purely the responsibility of the selection committee, and the PTI provincial government has nothing to do with it,” Yousafzai explained.
Meanwhile, other political parties in the province, including the leadership of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) have all thrown their weight behind the Bilour family and support the stance that Haroon should be honoured with the award. They expressed their resentment over ignoring the slain ANP leader.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 18th, 2019.