The chief security officer of President Asif Ali Zardari, Bilal Sheikh, was laid to rest on Thursday. He was killed in a suicide attack along with three others on Wednesday.
Hundreds of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) activists and leaders from across the political divide took part in the funeral prayers held in Gulbahar, Khamosh Colony, under strict security measures. Those in attendance included president’s spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar, PPP leaders Syed Khurshid Shah, Sharjeel Memon, Abdul Qadir Patel and Rashid Rabbani, Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) Babar Khan Ghauri, Awami National Party (ANP) leader Bashir Jan, Saleem Zia from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Basharat Mirza from Pakistan Democratic Party.
Speaking to the media, Ghauri called the attack on Sheikh a failure of law enforcement agencies and said MQM shared the grief of Sheikh’s death with PPP. “We have to set aside our political differences and fight the scourge of terrorism.”
Jan said that he had lost a dear friend as his friendship with Sheikh goes back to 25 years when they were students at the Federal Urdu Arts College. “He was a political worker in true sense of the word and was someone who always stood by his friends,” he said, adding that Sheikh would meet him at functions even when on duty with President Zardari.
PPP leader Rashid Rabbani said that Sheikh was a senior member and had rendered many sacrifices for the party. He said that Sindh chief minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah has constituted a committee to investigate his killing and a report would be submitted within the next few days.
Death roll rises
The death toll of the Gurumandir blast increased to four as another police guard Khushal Khan succumbed to his injuries during treatment.
The law enforcement agencies have so far not been able to conclusively ascertain the modus operandi used to kill Bilal Sheikh. A case, however, has been registered by Jamshed Quarter police under section 302/34, 3/4 Explosives Act and Anti-Terrorist Act 7 against unidentified men.
Two committees were formed under the Inspector General of Police and the DIG South after President Zardari himself directed the IGP to arrest those involved in the attack.
A source at Crime Investigation Department confirmed that Sheikh had been receiving threats from Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan-linked organisations and subsequently altered his routine to avoid any untoward incident. He, however, did not change his fruit vendor, stationed outside Binori Town mosque, and the attackers were aware that Sheikh would make a stop there to buy fruits for Ramazan, he added.
He further said Sheikh was on his way back home in Khamosh Colony after visiting a relative in Defence, adding that his wife and children had also accompanied him in another car but he asked them to go home while he brought fruits.
The police, meanwhile, said they could not rule out the possible involvement of Lyari gangsters as the last attack on him was carried out by Shahid Bikik, who is said to be a close aide of Lyari gangsters. Sindh IG spokesperson Imran Shaukat, however, said that investigation is underway and it is premature to say anything at this stage.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2013.
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