The venue where the chief security officer of Benazir Bhutto, Munawar Suharwardy, was killed on June 17, 2004, witnessed the death of the personal security officer of President Asif Ali Zardari, Bilal Sheikh, nine years later – a suicide bomb blast near Gurumandir on Wednesday claimed the life of the 43-year-old jiyala along with killing three other people, including the alleged bomber.
Less than a month ago, the Pakistan Peoples Party’s workers commemorated the death anniversary of Suharwardy, demanding the government to re-investigate the murder of their leader and expose the assassins. But before the government could meet their demand, PPP lost another activist, Bilal Sheikh, on the same spot where Suharwardy lost his life.
Shaikh, born in Haji Mureed Goth, Nazimabad, started his political career by joining Peoples Student Federation (PSF), student wing of PPP, in 1986. Being an active worker, he was appointed as the vice-president PPP’s central district. He also served as president of PS 107.
When Benazir Bhutto was returning to Pakistan after her self-imposed exile in 2007, Shaikh acted as the leader of Janisaran-e-Benazir Bhutto and managed her security.
He survived two attacks in 2006 and 2007, only sustaining injuries in one. When President Zardari took over the office, Shaikh was appointed as his personal security officer.
His duties took him wherever the president went – within the country and abroad.
Reports of allegations against him surfaced during his career and he was implicated in a few cases as well but the court acquitted him on all charges.
According to the spokesperson for Bilawal House, the allegations were only meant to malign the devoted party worker. Soon after the blast took place, President Zardari asked the Sindh IG for a report on the people involved in the incident, saying “I want to find out as soon as possible who killed Bilal and the other people.”
The party has termed the incident as a terrorist attack, alleging the people who killed their leaders, including Benazir Bhutto, were also involved in this “cowardly act”.
Shaikh leaves behind four children and a widow. His will be laid to rest in the Liaquatabad graveyard.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2013.