Terrorism and Political Assassinations
Alam Rind


The assassination of Bashir Ahmad Bilor the Senior Minister for Local Government and Rural Development of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has sent shockwaves throughout the country, especially in political circles. He was assassinated by a suicide bomber on 22 December 2012 in Qissa Khawani Bazaar of Peshawar. It is the first political assassination at the hands of terrorists since that of Benazir Bhutto on 27 December 2007 in Rawalpindi. Chief Minister Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Ameer Haider Khan Hoti while addressing the provincial assembly demanded that political and military leadership of the country must unite to fight the rising menace of militancy in the country. He said that, “the terrorist are against Pakistan, its constitution and the humanity.” This stance of terrorist doesn’t leave many options with the nation. Chief of Awami National Party (ANP) Asfandyar Wali Khan in a press conference on 25th December 2012 after paying rich tribute to late Bashir Ahmad Balor cautioned that, “extremism and terrorism poses a great threat to the existence of the country.” He demanded that all political forces of the country must unite to confront the threat.

The call given by ANP needs to be considered seriously. It will be naive to consider demise of Bashir Ahmad Balor as an isolated incident. We may witness more of such assassinations if proper punitive and protective steps are not taken by the government. Recent incidents clearly demonstrates a surge in terrorist activities. Attack on Peshawar Airport is a case in point. The attack was launched to destroy military helicopters used against anti-state elements. Reportedly, it was spearheaded by Tataristan Group of Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan operating from North Waziristan. This group is believed to be headed by Abdul Samad Sheeshani and its members are residing in general area of Mir Ali. This media information seems to have credence as most of the militants out of the ten killed in the incident were of Central Asian origin. The incident also reflects on the degree of ingress these militants have in our systems and the ease with which they could move around with weapons and ammunition. It also divulges that these groups are not working in isolation, in fact their foreign mentors are assigning targets to these robotic mercenaries. The recent spat of terrorism indicates a shift in their strategy from targeting high vale military assets to prominent political personalities.
With elections around the corner, attacks on political leaders can destabilize the country. Unfortunate death of a party head or other prominent leader can create the type of turmoil that the terrorists may be looking for. Such a situation can pose a real threat to elections, democracy and even to the sovereignty of the country. At this particular point in time nation needs to re-visit its priorities. What is more important for the nation, subduing terrorists, purging corrupt elements from the political cadre or to hold elections while being indifferent to these factors which may defeat the very purpose of the elections itself. This is the issue that has been raised by Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri. Political forces may or may not agree with his point of view, but this for sure is a call from a whistle blower to take stock of the situation before moving any further.
Majority of Pakistanis want democratic system to continue but none for sure want terrorists to take advantage of the instability that normally prevails under interim government. It is also a fact that people want corrupt elements to be removed from political parties so that the future government could deliver better results. If this is the goal to be pursued, than political forces in and out of the government must join hands to formulate a popularly acceptable interim government and checkout its tasks. Pushing the environment towards confrontation would not only be counterproductive but would also provide opportunity to terrorist elements to pursue their own agenda. They have already demonstrated their ability to target political personalities, sensitive installations and public places. Given an opportunity they can create mayhem by engaging defenseless masses pursuing long march or protesting for political objectives. Sanity demands that confrontational politics should be avoided for the sake of safety of the people, stability of the country and to prevent possible derailing of present democratic system.