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Even silence provokes militants to kill

October 19, 2013

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Sardar Israrullah Khan Gandapur. — File photo
Sardar Israrullah Khan Gandapur. — File photo

PESHAWAR: Sardar Inayatullah Khan Gandapur, a former chief minister of the province and a chieftain, was known for aristocratic style as he drove around in his custom made armoured vehicle due to feuds.

However, his son, Sardar Israrullah Khan Gandapur, even after being elected MPA thrice and made the law minister in the current provincial government, was a completely different man and a down-to-earth soul.

The younger Gandapur was killed by a suicide bomber, who entered his hujra that was open to the locals on the Eid day. He left behind a widow, a five-year-old son and a two-year-old daughter.

Always quoting the Constitution and the provincial assembly’s procedure and conduct of business rules during the assembly’s proceedings, Sardar Israrullah was a down-to-earth and perhaps one of the most decent and soft-spoken legislators. Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan said on Twitter: “I feel devastated over the martyrdom of Israr Gandapur.”

Paying tribute to the educated legislator, Senator Afrasiab Khattak of Awami National Party tweeted: “Pakhtunkhwa lost an astute parliamentarian, a decent Pashtun and a brave leader in the martyrdom of Israrullah Gandapur.”

This is a fact that the province lost a well-mannered and seasoned legislator at a time when there is a scarcity of sagacious voices in parliament. So many brave and resilient sons have sacrificed their lives in this elusive war, but assassination of Sardar Israrullah is a collective loss of the province.

It’s a bad luck of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, which has lost three MPAs in five months in acts of terrorism since its formation on May 29. The assembly earlier lost two MPAs, including Fareed Khan of PTI from Hangu and Imran Mohmand, independent from Mardan. Both fell victim to terrorism related incidents.

Being a right man for the right job, Sardar Israrullah was allotted ministry of law and parliamentary affairs in the coalition government. He was among the few experienced lawmakers in KP Assembly who followed code of conduct and respected decorum of the House and the Chair. He spoke in the House only after seeking permission from the chair in the House.

He was Sardar by birth and inherited politics from his late father. But he never behaved like a feudal lord.

Born in August 1975 in his hometown Kulachi he started his political career from the grass root level and was elected Tehsil Nazim, Kulachi in 2002. He later contested by-election on PF-67 when his father vacated the seat. He was elected member of the provincial assembly in 2002, 2008 and 2013 elections consecutively.

In the beginning, he was affiliated with Pakistan People’s Party (Sherpao) and won the elections in 2002 and 2008 on its ticket. After winning 2008 elections again on the PPP (Sherpao) ticket he and incumbent Chief Minister Pervez Khattak informally joined treasury benches, ditching their parent party.

Mr Khattak became minister of irrigation in the cabinet of then Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti, but Sardar Israrullah did not get portfolio.

Later, he contested the May 11 elections as an independent candidate from PK-67 and joined PTI after returning to the provincial assembly.

After switching sides from his party after the 2008 elections, Sardar Israrullah had once told Dawn: “When people elect, they have expectations. You can do service to your people only if you join the ruling party, in our political culture an MPA can’t survive politically if he remains in the opposition for two consecutive tenures.”

Warmongers, who planted suicide bomber to kill him, have left a clear-cut message that everyone was on their target whether they were sympathisers of Taliban, spoke against militancy or remained neutral.

Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated because she was speaking loudly against militancy. Bashir Bilour was killed because of his anti-militant stand.

Asfandyar Wali Khan and Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao were attacked because they had a ‘pro-US’ stand, which was not acceptable to the Taliban and their perpetrators.

Similarly, warmongers did not spare late Jamaat-i-Islami chief Qazi Hussain Ahmad and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman though both had adopted anti-US stand and never blamed Taliban for fatalities and militancy.

But a person like Sardar Israrullah, who never spoke against Taliban and militancy at any public forum and restricted his role to legislation whether he was on opposition side or in government, has also been targeted and silenced.