[QODLink]
Central & South Asia

Funeral held for killed Pakistan politician

Bashir Bilour buried in Peshawar at high-security ceremony day after provincial minister dies in Taliban bomb attack.
Last Modified: 23 Dec 2012 16:21
Bilour was killed when a suicide bomber struck as 100 ANP party members gathered in northwest Pakistan [AFP]

Prominent politicians were among mourners paying their last respects amid tight security to Pakistani provincial minister Bashir Bilour, who was killed in a suicide attack claimed by the Taliban.

With helicopters hovering overhead, Interior Minister Rehman Malik and local leaders joined hundreds of members of Bilour's Awami National Party (ANP), which governs the province, at a sports stadium on Sunday for a funeral prayer.

Bilour, senior minister of northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, was killed along with eight other people when the suicide bomber struck at a political meeting in the provincial capital Peshawar on Saturday.

The killing of the 69-year-old, an outspoken critic of the Pakistani Taliban, happened in a city on the frontline of the country's fight against homegrown militancy which is frequently hit by gun and bomb attacks.

Security gates were set up at the entrance of the stadium in Peshawar and people were subjected to body searches. Authorities had installed jamming equipment to block mobile phone signals, which can be used to trigger bombs.

Kamal Hyder reports on aftermath of Saturday's attack

Draped in a Pakistani flag, Bilour's coffin was brought from his brother's residence in an ambulance which later drove to the city's graveyard where he was buried near his mother's grave.

"Bilour was a sober, seasoned and brave politician. His death has created a vacuum in provincial politics," Anwar Saifullah, of the Pakistan People's Party, told the AFP news agency after attending the funeral.

The Pakistan People's Party leads a national coalition government in Islamabad, which includes the secular ANP.

Amir Muqam, a senior figure in opposition party the Pakistan Muslim League-N, said: "Bilour was a courageous politician - the ANP has suffered a big loss in Peshawar."

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf declared a day of national mourning in Bilour's honour on Sunday and flags flew at half-mast. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial government announced three days of mourning.

Bilour, the number two to the chief minister of the province, had been in politics for 40 years.

In Saturday's attack, around 100 people - including the provincial leadership of the ANP - had gathered at the meeting when the bomber struck.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) said they targeted Bilour in revenge for the death of one of their elders.

416

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
New ration reductions and movement restrictions have refugees from Myanmar are anxious about their future in Thailand.
US lawyers say poor translations of election materials disenfranchise Native voters.
US drones in Pakistan have killed thousands since 2004. How have leaders defended or decried these deadly planes?
Residents count the cost of violence after black American teenager shot dead by white Missouri police officer.
EU's poorest member state is struggling to cope with an influx of mostly war-weary Syrian refugees.
join our mailing list