by Amir Abbas Turi
“My presence gives hope and valour to the terror-struck folks.” – Shaheed Bilour
Bilour: a man who believed firmly in his creed and fought for it till the very end. It is a death that should be mourned for the heroism and courage of the martyred, and for the loss of multi-faceted life full of affirmative power that has been lost. But, finally, he won – the hearts of millions of Pakistanis.
On December 22, 2012, a terrorist suicide bomber finally succeeded in his aims and took the life of the valiant Pashtun leader. Bashir Ahmed Bilour, a 69-year-old politician from the Awami National Party (ANP) was martyred for adopting a bold stance against terrorism and militancy. He remained the first ever serving minister to be honoured with the highest civil award, Hilal-e-Shujaat for his bravery and resolve against the scourge of terrorism and extremism from the-then President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari on March 23, 2011
Bashir Bilour was a man of towering personality who had always helped the down-trodden and raised the plight of the oppressed folks in this land of pure. The sacrifices rendered by the late leader of ANP for the sake of harmony, tolerance, social justice and human rights could not be forgotten. He, throughout his life addressed the quandary of the brow-beaten and under-privileged inhabitants of this country in particular, and Peshawarites in general. All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the determination to confront the major threat to peace against the people of that time. This, and not much else, is the real meaning of leadership.
Bashir Bilour used to say that extremists are our enemies — the foes of our children and women. They yearn for our kids to be their slaves; nevertheless, we will educate our young blood and will make them non-violent and progressive citizens of Pakistan. Once after visiting the spot of suicide bombing in the Meena Bazar market, Peshawar, he lamented on the floor of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provincial assembly, “I saw the mothers, daughters and sisters of my nation lying uncovered, wounded, bleeding and bits of flesh spread on the road. How much more blood would be enough to awake the dead consciences?”
He was one of the very few sane voices in this country and made significant contribution in widening non-violent approach to eradicate racial, economic, and social injustice following the legacy of Fakhr-e-Afghan Bacha Khan alias Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan. In country mired by confusion over what to do about the Taliban nuisance, his was a clear vision and message: oppose them for their thought and savage means are irreconcilable with anything modern.
Bashir Bilour was popular both among ANP cadres and the electorate in his constituency in Peshawar city. He served as the ANP provincial president and won election from his provincial assembly constituency five times in a row. And the manner of his death in a suicide attack has made him a martyr for his family, party and innumerable supporters.In this situation, the most vulnerable people are those who speak the truth, flight for justice, support the weak and strive against intolerance.
However, history will not forget those who have laid their lives for the sake of truth and justice. He will be remembered for his courage and valour and have had all the qualities of a great leader as, Henry Kissinger said, "The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been." Late Bashir Ahmed stood in defiance against the mighty force of religious fanatics. Regrettably, most of our leaders lack such a strong character and charismatic personality. He knew well the cost of his audacity, but still he raised his voice for the plight of the oppressed. He could not be threatened or silenced.
Martyred Bilour was someone who has good values and a sense of honour and integrity. It’s our obligation to remember those heroes of society who contribute in society for making Pakistan democratic, peaceful and prosperous and worth living. All the segments of society, including political parties and media, will have to join hands to defeat the dogmatic mindset.
The life of Shaheed Bilour could best be understood by the below mentioned couplet of Khushal Khan Khattak once said:
Pa Jahan da Nangyali dee da dwa kara,
Ya ba Okhuray kakary, Ya ba Kamran shay
(A valiant man can do but one deed,
Perish striving for the goal or succeed)
It is our moral duty to remember and salute such unsung heroes of our society. Bashir Bilour is the kind of fearless leader that our nation requires in today’s dark age. May his soul rest in eternal peace!
The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and he tweets @EngrTuri