Awami National Party (ANP) eagerly awaits return of its President Asfandyar Wali Khan to take up the hottest issue of $0.1 million bounty announced by its veteran leader (federal minister) Ghulam Ahmad Bilour for whosoever will kill the producer of blasphemous movie.
Bilour, 73, who hails from Peshawar, unlike majority of party activists, offers five-time prayers and has also performed pilgrimage.
Come what may, the ANP minister is prepared to explain his position before the party and defend himself: Bilour is unfazed by likely consequences from his call for killing of the blasphemer. He feels great on getting appreciation beyond his imagination from not only locals but also from the Middle Eastern and European countries.
“They have offered me money and anything I may need. But obviously, I have politely refused to take anything from them, as Allah has given me much more than I deserve,” he says.
Informally, the matter has been debated in the party but it is to be taken up either by the central executive committee or think-tank of the secular party once Asfandyar is back from abroad.
“The matter is sensitive and it will surely be deliberated upon after the homecoming of our president,” remarked Senator Muhammad Zahid Khan, who is the party’s central information secretary, when The News approached him on telephone for his comment in this context.
Asked what possible action could be taken against this old campaigner of the party, Senator Zahid played cautiously and said as per party discipline he was not supposed to express his views on what could happen to the minister.
He maintained that no one had so far sought explanation from Bilour.
Replying to a question, however, he reiterated that whatever Bilour said last week was his personal initiative, having nothing to do with ANP’s philosophy. Zahid condemned in the strongest terms the profane movie and all those behind it.
Talking to this correspondent, Bilour, who has the portfolio of Ministry of Railways, appeared confident and happy. He said what he announced was in response to what he called a voice from within.
“Like in any party, anyone can express himself freely and I did the same. I am not concerned about it as I am not the party’s spokesman and what I said is not ANP’s policy line,” the minister contended.
Asked was he aware he would be called for explanation by the party leadership, Bilour expressed his readiness to explain his position, if and when summoned by the leadership.
Bilour said he was not worried over reports that he could be deprived of the ministerial slot for announcing bounty for the killer of blasphemer. He added whatever would be the repercussions he would not renege on his announcement of prize.
“It is a great feeling and I thank Allah that this appreciation has come to me: a soldier of Bacha Khan,” he remarked.
Asked why so many religious leaders and clerics could not make such announcement and even this did not come from the platform of Defence of Pakistan Council, Bilour said he announced the bounty because he felt deeply hurt by the profane movie. “You may better put this question to them,” he said.