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PESHAWAR:  Caretaker Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk offers Fateha for the late Haroon Bilour at Bilour House on Thursday.—INP
PESHAWAR: Caretaker Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk offers Fateha for the late Haroon Bilour at Bilour House on Thursday.—INP

PESHAWAR: Prime Minis­ter Nasirul Mulk and Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa visited Peshawar on Thursday to offer condolences to the Bilour family over the loss of Haroon Bilour, who was killed in a suicide attack late on Tuesday night.

In their separate visits to the family, the prime minister and the army chief expressed deep sorrow over the targeted killing of Mr Haroon — a candidate of the Awami National Party for a provincial assembly seat — and some 21 ANP workers in the terrorist attack. They also offered prayers for the departed souls.

Mr Haroon’s uncles, former senator Ilyas Bilour and former federal minister Ghu­lam Ahmed Bilour, received the visitors at their house. Ghulam Bilour has survived a previous suicide attack.

Prime Minister Mulk also held meetings with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra and Chief Minister retired Justice Dost Muhammad Khan in the presence of federal Interior Minister Azam Khan.

During the meeting, the prime minister was briefed on the security measures being taken by the provincial government in the wake of the terrorist attack, said a statement issued by the Prime Minister Office.

Prime Minister Mulk expressed concern over the loss of precious lives in the attack and directed the authorities concerned to ensure foolproof security arrangements for electoral candidates, particularly the top leaders of political parties.

A press release issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations quoted Gen Bajwa as saying during his visit to the Bilour House that “Bilour family has stood firm in the war against terrorism, with great sacrifices during the national effort. We have come a long way in our challenging journey to peace and destination isn’t far Inshallah”.

Haroon Bilour’s father, Bashir Bilour, was killed in December 2012, also in a terrorist attack.

“We stand united against all proponents of hate and mayhem regardless of hue and colour,” the press release quoted Gen Bajwa as telling the grieving family.

A number of important political figures also visited the Bilours to offer prayers and condolences over the death of Mr Haroon and 20-odd ANP workers in the brutal attack. Senior Pakis­tan Peoples Party leader and former senator Aitzaz Ahsan was among such figures.

Talking to reporters after offering his condolences to the Bilour family, he said he had been greatly saddened over the martyrdom of a rising political leader. “The entire country feels the pain of the Bilour family.”

However, Mr Ahsan said the attack should not “deter us from our struggle for democracy”. The ANP was on top of the terrorists’ list of targets and this would definitely affect the outcome of the elections, he added.

Meanwhile, the death toll from the attack rose to 22 on Thursday. About 60 persons, mostly ANP workers, were injured in it.

A terror alert was issued a couple of days before the incident by the National Counter Terrorism Authority, warning of possible attacks on politicians, most of them belonging to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and including ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan.

Published in Dawn, July 13th, 2018