DERA ISMAIL KHAN: The election for the city mayor slot in Dera Ismail Khan was postponed after unknown assailants gunned down Awami National Party candidate Umar Khitab Sherani advocate near his house in Gulshan-i-Hameed Model Town here on Saturday morning.

District police officer Najamul Hasnain Liaquat confirmed that unknown assailants opened fire on the ANP candidate for the mayor slot, who was also party’s district president, in Gulshan-i-Hameed Model Town when he came out from his house early in the morning. He died on the spot and the attackers escaped.

After the incident, ANP workers blocked the road in front of the party’s election office near the Town Hall. However, they dispersed after the assurance of deputy commissioner Arifullah Awan and DPO that the killers would be arrested. The police have started search for the killers in the entire district.

Funeral prayer of Umar Sherani advocate was offered at the Wensum College later in the day. Thousands of people, including federal minister Ali Amin Gandapur, JUI-F leader Maulana Lutfur Rehman, PPP central spokesman and candidate for city mayor Faisal Karim Kundi and other candidates for the seat, attended the funeral.

District Bar Association and High Court Bar Association, Dera Ismail Khan, strongly condemn the incident. In a statement, they said the murder of Omar Khitab Sherani advocate proved the failure and incompetence of the police department and law-enforcement agencies to provide security to the poll contestants. The bar associations boycotted proceeding of all civil courts in protest against the murder of the lawyer.

Meanwhile, through a notification the office of returning officer city council, DI Khan, postponed the election with immediate effect.

OUR PESHAWAR BUREAU ADDS: Awami National Party has condemned the murder of its candidate Umer Khitab Sherani in Dera Ismail Khan and asked for an immediate probe into the incident.

In their separate statements here on Saturday, ANP central senior vice-president Amir Haider Hoti and party’s provincial spokesperson Samar Haroon Bilour said it was the state’s responsibility to take pragmatic steps for identification of those involved in the brutal incident.

“The ANP will not sit silent. A detailed investigation should be made and the report made public within three days as to who is responsible for this heinous crime,” Samar Haroon said and added that her party would announce next line of action in case the police and other law enforcement agencies failed to satisfy it.

Mr Hoti said the case needed proper investigation to know the factual position about a possible terrorism and political victimisation.

He paid tribute to Umer Khitab Sherani and said that he was an active follower of Bacha Khan’s non-violence philosophy.

Published in Dawn, December 19th, 2021

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