PESHAWAR:  If Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan were alive today, he would have been proud of the way in which the political heirs to his party participated at the funeral of Bashir Ahmed Bilour on Sunday.
Amidst strict security measures, prayers were peacefully offered in Peshawar for those who lost their lives in the Dhaki Nalbandi suicide blast, which occurred a day earlier. There were no incidents of violence reported. Police said that the discipline showed by the party workers helped avert a situation that terrorists could have taken advantage of.
As a precautionary measure, a large number of policemen were deployed in the city and security force personnel patrolled roads in the cantonment areas during the funeral prayers of the provincial minister.
Police officials also said that they were expecting trouble from enraged Awami National Party (ANP) workers but the role of the party leadership was laudable who had kept their workers under control.
ANP office bearers said that it would have been unfortunate had party workers violently reacted to their loss. The ANP workers, who are also known for their “Khudai Khidmatgar” tradition, said that it is their belief in tolerance that has brought them so far.  “This is not the first time something like this has happened to us. We have buried more than 550 activists, said ANP spokespersons Senator Zahid Khan, who added that “Mashar (Asfandyar Wali Khan) has appealed to people to remain calm and show patience.”
“We want to tell the world that we are tolerant; but at the same time we will continue to fight these people (militants) because if we step back, the nation will lose courage,” said Khan.
Another party member, Senator Baz Muhammad Khan, said ANP activists had proven their tolerance as they follow the footsteps of party founder Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (Bacha Khan) and Khan Abdul Wali Khan who have always spread the message of patience and tolerance.
“We feared that violent protests could have provided terrorists with a golden opportunity to strike but mercifully this did not happen,” he said.
Despite the exemplary conduct by the ANP, law enforcement agencies were not taking any chances because of a threat from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, which had earlier claimed responsibility for Saturday’s carnage. “Extra contingents have been provided to Peshawar police as there are intelligence reports that terrorists are planning to carry out yet another car bomb attack,” said a police official who informed that his force had instructions to check cars strictly at all the entry points of the city.
An FIR has been registered at the Khan Raziq police station in Saturday’s suicide attack case which left nine dead and 17 injured. The moharar of the police station informed that an investigation team had started its work and body parts of the suicide attacker had been sent for DNA testing.
Arrangements have also been made to protect the Bilour household where hundreds gathered to offer their condolences on Sunday.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 24th, 2012.