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ANP faces political vacuum after Bilour

December 24, 2012

PESHAWAR, Dec 23: Bashir Ahmed Bilour’s assassination has virtually shattered the Awami National Party with which he remained affiliated for over 40 years.

His commitment to the party cause was unshakeable and besides being a good administrator and punctual he did what he said. Mr Bilour had a big role in ANP politics and his colleagues say he knew party matters and spoke seriously.

A tested politician, Mr Bilour was frontrunner for the chief minister’s slot in 2008 when his party was inching towards forming a coalition government with Pakistan People’s Party. There was not an iota of doubt that Mr Bilour would not get the chief minister office. He was the senior-most politician among the MPAs-elect.

When the MPAs sat for a meeting in Bacha Khan Markaz, apparently to formally nominate their candidate for the KP top slot, everyone seemed sure that Mr Bilour would be the next chief minister. He himself was also sure of his elevation to the post, but the newly-elected lawmakers nominated Ameer Haider Hoti for the top position.

When the news broke Mr Bilour’s supporters began chanting slogans against the decision. The protest soon became louder, but Mr Bilour came out of the meeting and calmed down the enraged workers at a time when he himself was 100 per cent sure of his nomination.

Then he became senior minister with most junior Hoti as his boss who appeared to be his rival, but Mr Bilour behaved maturely and soon became the most active minister of the cabinet. His rejection for the priced slot by lawmakers didn’t cause him any difference. His leading role in the ANP-led coalition government is a tell-tale example how the 69-year-old took his time to be in contact with party workers as well as looking into development work.

Later, Mr Bilour said that he was not sure about having a chance of getting the province’s top post in future. Even then he behaved so sensibly that he gave cushion to Mr Hoti and would attend meetings and functions side by side him.

Mr Bilour’s record of winning a provincial assembly seat from urban Peshawar for five times in a row shows his public face.

Despite being on top of terrorists’ list, he went to the narrowest streets and addressed public meetings in densely populated areas in old city to meet people and listen to their problems.

“He didn’t tell me about his activities because I always advised him to take precautions in view of looming Taliban threats to his life because he knew that I would not allow him to go to certain places,” his elder brother Senator Ilyas Bilour said.

He passed hectic days and nights in his mission to serve public and end terrorism, he said.

The ANP on its part is to bear the price of Mr Bilour’s loss in days to come. As good administrator, he managed to keep an eye on his constituency despite being preoccupied with official work.

He would turn up at public meetings frequently.

Mr Bilour is no more, but his close relatives say he had longed for embracing martyrdom and Allah had answered his prayers. “He has found a death of his choosing. God bless him,” said his brother Ilyas Bilour.