PESHAWAR, March 21: A group of elders, at the advice of President Asif Ali Zardari, has succeeded in bringing to an end the debilitating enmity between the Akhunzadas and the Bilours, the city’s two prominent and influential families. Both families announced to forgive each other at a meeting here on Monday. “In the next phase, the enmity simmering between the Bilour and Qamar Abbas since 1997 will be resolved. We are trying to persuade them to bury their differences and start a new life,” Mirza Mohammad Jihadi, a tribal elder and PPP leader from Kurram Agency, told the meeting held at Hussainabad Kohati.

The families became enemies when Shabir Ahmed Bilour, the lone son of Federal Minister for Railways Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, was shot dead at a polling station during by-election on a National Assembly seat on April 3, 1997.

Shabir Bilour was killed after exchange of hot words with PPP leader and former provincial minister Syed Qammar Abbas, who had also received injuries in the incident.

Both the families had registered cases against each others and police arrested Mr Abbas, who remained in prison for about three years. He was later acquitted and one of his bodyguards was convicted for the crime.

On May 6, 2007, Mr Abbas and his friend Mohammad Ali Akhunzada, riding a motorcycle, were killed by unidentified attackers near Faqirabad Bridge in Peshawar.

Four members of Bilour family --Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, his brother Bashir Ahmed Bilour and Haroon Bilour and Usman Bilour, both sons of Bashir Bilour -- were nominated in the case. The accused denied the charge.

A PPP source said that former prime minister Benazir Bhutto had also tried to resolve the issue. She had personally visited both the families but her efforts could not succeed as Bilour family was not ready to talk on the issue at that time.

“The efforts had been made when Qamar Abbas was alive. Benazir wanted Bilour family to pardon Mr Abbas, but her efforts could not bear fruits,” he said.

The source said that a group of elders including Mirza Jihadi, Malik Dir Nawaz of Bannu, Malik Waheedullah of Hazara and few others played vital role in resolving enmity between the two families after they were instructed by President Zardari to make efforts in this regard.

On Monday, Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, Bashir Ahmed Bilour and Senator Ilyas Ahmed Bilour went to the residence of late Mohammad Ali Akhunzada at Hussainabad. Both the families forgave each other in the presence of elders.Speaking on the occasion, Iqbal Ali Akhunzada, the uncle of Mohammad Ali, said that he forgave the blood of his nephew without any condition. Bashir Bilour thanked him for pardoning his family and also appreciated President Zardari for his role in ending the dispute.

PPP leader and Provincial Senior Minister Rahimdad Khan, Provincial Minister Liaquat Shabab, former district nazim Azam Afridi, PPP city president Syed Ayub Shah, Maulana Iftikhar Naqvi and several other elders were also present at the meeting.

Despite repeated efforts Bilour brothers could not be contacted, however, Awami National Party spokesman Arbab Tahir said that the dispute was resolved without any condition. “It had been decided some 10 days ago but it was formally announced today,” he said.

Ayub Shah also termed the settlement a good omen for Peshawar and its residents.