PESHAWAR: Despite escaping two assassination bids, there was no looking back for Bashir Ahmed Bilour.
He remained undeterred and steadfast against terrorism till Saturday evening when he died in a suicide bombing near Peshawar’s Qissa Khwani Bazaar.
Bilour’s career spanned over 40 eventful years during which he served as provincial president of the Awami National Party and stayed committed to it through thick and thin.
Ultimately, he laid down his life, like over 700 other workers and leaders of his party.
He won five elections and never lost any.
Mr Bilour was an active parliamentarian who took keen interest in the law and spoke frequently on various topics. He always had a positive attitude. As a minister, he installed the largest national flag against a notion that the ANP was anti-Pakistan.
The assassination of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s senior minister is not surprising because of his endless campaign against terrorism.
The news shocked not only his friends and party colleagues, but also apolitical people, mainly due to his bravery against the outlawed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan.
Only a day earlier, he had visited the homes of anti-polio workers assassinated in Shabqadar, a hub of terrorists’ attacks.
The deceased was an early riser in the morning and had made it his priority to visit the families of those who died or were injured even in Mohmand, Khyber and other agencies in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas didn’t come in his jurisdiction.
In Khyber Pakhtunhwa, he travelled extensively to hospitals and places damaged by Taliban to express solidarity with people and boost their morale.
The 69-year-old grey-haired leader, who is survived by two sons and widow, had become a beacon of hope for victims of terrorism throughout the country.
A law graduate, he would reach the sites of bomb blasts immediately. This he did in coordination with his fellow minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain, who lost his loneson to terrorists two years ago in his brave effort to give confidence to the people in the localities where these incidents took place.
Mian Iftikhar said he was shocked at Bashir’s death more than his son’s as he was the one who played a frontline role against terrorism.
“I have lost my partner in the war against so-called Taliban. We both fought a coordinated war against militants. Now I feel loneliness and still pray to Allah to turn the news of Bashir’s death untrue,” Mr Hussain said.
Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, the federal Railway Minister and elder brother of Bashir Bilour, said: “He was not of the type to be scared away. Yesterday, he told me he would stand determined to fight terrorism. My efforts to eliminate violence and give peace of mind to the people will not end.
“His sacrifice is example of how Pakhtuns are being targeted under a well-planned conspiracy, he said.
ANP president Asfandyar Wali Khan said he had lost his brother. “I advised him to take precautionary measures when he survived the first attack. He smiled and told me that it was better to be martyred than staying in the bedroom,” he said.
“It is surprising that people sitting in Pakistan are carrying out a ferocious armed struggle and taking pride in claiming responsibility for such acts but are going scot-free,” a statement issued by the ANP chief said.
“We have to reconsider our strategy against the terrorists who are not only killing ANP workers but have also attacked leaders like Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Qazi Hussain Ahmed and Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao. All the people should join forces to eliminate them once and for all.”
He said Pakistan had lost a determined politician but the militants were on the run after losing the war against his party and such acts were a proof of their desperation.