Saturday December 03, 2022

After Sherpao, Ahsan is second interior minister to be targeted

May 07, 2018

LAHORE: Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, the government functionary responsible for the internal security of the whole country, is the second Pakistani interior minister after Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao to have dodged death luckily.

An unsuccessful life attack had injured Ahsan Iqbal Sunday evening in his hometown of Narowal, raising many questions and security apprehensions regarding the atmosphere available to country's political leaders for electoral campaigning just months before the forthcoming national ballot exercise. As far as one of Ahsan Iqbal's predecessors Aftab Sherpao is concerned, he has till date survived four attacks on his life.

Sherpao, who as the Interior Minister had supervised operations against the Taliban and the Lal Masjid saga during the tenure of former President Pervez Musharraf, was first attacked on April 28, 2007 from a distance of less than 10 feet. Although Sherpao survived the attack, he had sustained injuries on his legs from flying shrapnel and pellets.

A suicide bomber had blown himself up at Charsadda, killing at least 28 people and injuring more than 40. Sherpao, who had also previously served as the 14th and 18th Chief Minister of the Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, was proceeding towards his jeep after addressing his People’s Party workers in Charsadda town.

On December 21, 2007, Sherpao was again targeted by a suicide bomber, who had detonated his explosive vest during EIdul Azha prayers at the Jamia Masjid Sherpao. At least 67 people were killed and around 70 were injured in this particular incident.

Sherpao survived this blast as well, but his younger son Mustafa Khan was injured in this incident.

Aftab Sherpao had relinquished charge as Interior Minister just about a month back when the assemblies were dissolved and the country was preparing for the next polling exercise.

On March 4, 2012, the lucky Sherpao had survived yet another life attempt, though two persons, including a policeman and a little girl, were killed in this event taking place at Shabqadar area of Peshawar. The blast occurred when the public rally of Pakistan People’s Party (Sherpao) had just concluded and party leaders were going back. In April 2015, Sherpao was targeted in a suicide attack in Charsadda for the fourth time.

Lady Luck was again on his side again and helped him survive this attack too. By the way, Ahsan Iqbal features in the club of lucky Pakistani politicians and renowned figures who have managed to survive deadly attacks aimed at taking their lives.

Here follows the list of these lucky Pakistani personalities hailing from different walks of life:

MQM Founder Altaf Hussain was unsuccessfully targeted on December 21, 1991. On December 14, 2003, General Musharraf had survived an elimination attempt when a powerful bomb went off minutes after his highly guarded convoy crossed a bridge in Rawalpindi. Musharraf was apparently saved by a jamming device in his limousine that prevented the remote controlled explosives from blowing up the bridge as his convoy passed over it. On December 25 of the same year, another attempt was made to assassinate Musharraf, but the then president had miraculously survived.

On June 10, 2004, the then Karachi Corps Commander Lt Gen Ahsan Saleem Hyat had survived an attack on his life as gunmen had opened fire on the convoy carrying him. Former Premier Shaukat Aziz was attacked unsuccessfully on July 30, 2004 during his election rally at Fateh Jang, Attock District.

On August 2, 2004, the then Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Mohammad Yousaf had escaped an assassination bid, when unidentified persons fired at his convoy.

On July 6, 2007, General Musharraf had escaped yet another attempt on his life when around 36 rounds fired at his aircraft from a submachine gun in Rawalpindi.

On November 9, 2007, the then Federal Political Affairs Minister and PML-Q Provincial President Amir Muqam, had survived a suicide attack at his residence.

Amir Muqam has till date survived some seven life attempts--more than anyone else in Pakistan. Former Premier Benazir Bhutto did escape unhurt in one attempt on her life on October 18, 2007, but could not duck the second one in just two months in 2007, eventually falling victim to it on December 27, 2007.

On October 2, 2008, a suicide attack targeted the house of ANP leader Asfandyar Wali Khan in Walibagh, Charsadda, though the target managed to survive the hit.

On October 6, 2008, a PML-N MNA Rashid Akbar Nawani was hurt in a suicide attack at his Bhakkar home. This attack had killed 20 people and injured 60 others.

On September 2, 2009, the then Federal Religious Affairs Minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi was injured in a brazen attack in Islamabad. His driver and a police guard were killed in the incident though.

On November 17, 2009, Police Deputy Inspector General, Nizam Shahid Durrani, was seriously in a blast in Quetta.

On September 4, 2008, shots fired by snipers hiding on an Islamabad Highway hill had hit one of the cars used by the-then Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

On January 20, 2010, an ANP leader Aurangzeb Khan was seriously injured in a Peshawar bomb blast.

Other lucky important figures include the JUI-F Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman (targeted thrice), former Balochistan Governor Zulfiqar Magsi, former Federal Ministers Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed (targeted twice at least) and the-then Sindh High Court judge Justice Maqbool Baqir in June 2013. It is imperative to note that although Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Senior Minister and a noted ANP leader Bashir Bilour had survived two assassination attempts on November 11, 2008 and March 11, 2009, he was eventually killed in a suicide attack in December 2012.

On April 16, 2013, four people were killed when an election convoy of PML-N’s Balochistan leader Sardar Sanaullah Zehri (later Chief Minister) had come under a bomb attack near Quetta.

Sardar Zehri did survive this attack but his son was among those killed. In May 2010, DIG Lahore Haider Ashraf and ASP Civil Lines Lahore Maroof Wahla (later SP) had ducked life attempts during the May 2010 terrorist attack on an Ahmadi worship place in Lahore’s Garhi Shahu locality.

On May 25, 2013, seven policemen were killed and another seven were wounded when the convoy of the District Police Officer Kohat, Dilawar Bangash, had come under attack in the troubled Matani town of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Dilawar Bangash had sustained injuries when his convoy was attacked with rockets.

In May 2013, the first attack on former IG Punjab, Mushtaq Sukhera, had claimed six lives but he had survived. The second time Sukhera survived was in August 2013, when a suicide bomber had killed 30 people, including Deputy Inspector General Operations Fayyaz Sumbal and Deputy Superintendent Police Shamsur Rehman, while they were all attending the funeral of a police SHO Mohib Ullah in Quetta. The then CCPO Quetta Mir Zubair was also with Mushtaq Sukhera on one of the two occasions. Luck was also kind to SP Sariab Area (Quetta) Basheer Ahmed Barohi, when his official vehicle was fired at by unknown gunmen on September 18, 2013.

In September 2014, SP Special Investigation Unit Karachi, Farooq Awan, featured among the lucky police officers to have survived more than once against all odds. The first unsuccessful attack against Farooq Awan was planned in 2010 when he was hit in the leg.

Here follows the list of the unlucky ones:

Quite a few Pakistani Prime Ministers, Presidents, governors, chief ministers, sitting and former ministers, eminent front-line politicians, noted religious scholars, highly placed army and police officials have been assassinated since October 16, 1951, the day which marks the murder of country’s first Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan in Rawalpindi.

Here follows a list of well-known Pakistanis, who have been attacked fatally during the last six decades or so:

After Liaquat Ali Khan’s assassination, the second high-profile murder was that of an important NWFP politician Khan Abdul Jabbar Khan (popularly known as Dr. Khan Sahib).

Dr, Khan Sahib was assassinated on May 9, 1958 at his son Sadullah Khan’s 16 Aikman Road, GOR, Lahore residence by a disgruntled Mianwali-based Land Revenue clerk Atta Mohammad. He was waiting for Colonel Syed Abid Hussein of Jhang (father of known politician Syeda Abida Hussain) to accompany him to a meeting organized in connection with the scheduled February 1959 General Elections.

Dr Khan sahib was the brother of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (Baccha Khan) and uncle of late Khan Abdul Wali Khan. Former Governor of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Hayat Mohammad Khan Sherpao, was assassinated in 1975 in a bomb explosion. He was one of the co-founders of the Pakistan People’s Party. Chaudhary Zahoor Elahi was murdered in 1981 in Lahore.

Sitting Pakistani Premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi's father, Air Commodore (Retd) Khaqan Abbasi (Federal Minister for Industries and Production in General Ziaul Haq’s cabinet), was killed in the Ojhri Camp incident of 1988.

The August 1988 incident, in which the plane carrying the then Pakistani President and Army Chief General Ziaul Haq and various sitting generals like Akhtar Abdul Rehman had exploded in air near Bahawalpur, should still be quite fresh in most memories.

Former Sindh Governor, Hakim Said, was killed in Karachi in 1998. Former Martial Law Administrator of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, former Governor and Chief Minister— Lieutenant General Fazl-e- Haq was assassinated by an unknown assailant on October 3, 1991 at Peshawar.

Former Punjab Chief Minister, Ghulam Haider Wyne, was gunned down in 1993. Former Premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s elder son, Mir Murtaza Bhutto, was killed in Karachi in September 1996. Siddiq Khan Kanju, former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, was killed in July 2001.

Soon after the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York, Ehteshamuddin Haider (the elder brother of former Sindh Governor and an ex- Pakistani Interior Minister Lt. Gen. (Retd) Moinuddin Haider), was shot dead by assailants near Soldier Bazaar in Karachi on December 21 of the same year.

On May 7, 2002, noted religious scholar Dr Ghulam Murtaza Malik, was shot dead by two gunmen in Lahore.

On October 6, 2003, MNA Maulana Azam Tariq (chief of the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan) was assassinated by unidentified gunmen in Islamabad.

On May 30, 2004, a senior Deobandi religious scholar and head of Islamic religious school Jamia Binoria Karachi, Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai, was gunned down in his car in the port city.

On July 14, 2006, Allama Hassan Turabi (a Shia religious scholar and chief of Tehrik-e-Jafaria Pakistan) and his 12-year-old nephew were killed in a suicide attack near his Karachi residence.

On January 27, 2007, at least 13 people, including the Chief of Peshawar City Police Malik Saad, were killed in a suicide bombing near a crowded Shia mosque in Peshawar.

On February 20, 2007, Punjab Minister for Social Welfare Zil-e-Huma Usman was shot down in Gujranwala. Her assassin, Mohammed Sarwar, was reported to have been motivated by her refusal to abide by the Islamic code of dress and a dislike for the involvement of women in political affairs.

On July 27, 2007, Balochistan government’s spokesman Raziq Bugti was shot dead by assailants at Quetta.

On September 15, 2007, unidentified assailants had shot down former MNA Maulana Hassan Jan (a Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam leader and Wafaqul Madaris Vice Chairman) at Peshawar.

Maulana Hasan Jan had issued a fatwa against suicide attacks and had travelled to Afghanistan in 2001 to convince Mullah Omar that he should expel Osama Bin Laden from Afghanistan to avoid American attacks.

On December 28, 2007, a former PML-Q minister Asfandyar Amirzaib (the grandson of Wali-e-Swat) was killed by a roadside bomb in Swat.

On February 25, 2008, Pakistan Army’s top medic Lt Gen Mushtaq Baig was killed at Rawalpindi, after a suicide attack had ripped apart the vehicle.

General Baig was the highest ranking officer to be killed in Pakistan since the 9/11 attacks.

On August 25, 2008, ANP MPA Waqar Ahmed’s brother and other family members were killed by a rocket attack at his Swat residence.

On November 19, 2008, Maj-Gen (R) Ameer Faisal Alavi (a former head of the Army’s Elite Commando Force or the Special Service Group), was gunned down in Islamabad. General Alvi had commanded the Special Service Group during the Pakistan Army’s first major assault on militants in South Waziristan in 2004.

On January 26, 2009, Hussain Ali Yousafi (Chairman of the Hazara Democratic Party) was shot dead at Quetta.

On February 11, 2009, an ANP provincial lawmaker Alam Zeb Khan was killed in a remote-controlled blast at Peshawar. This was the sixth such attack on ANP in less than a year.

On June 12, 2009, Sarfraz Ahmed Naeemi (a leading Sunni Barelwi cleric with anti-Taliban views), was killed in a suicide attack at the Jamia Naeemia Madrassa in Lahore.

On October 25, 2009, the Punjabi-born Balochistan Education Minister Shafiq Ahmed Khan, was shot dead outside his residence at Quetta. He was a member of the Pakistan People’s Party.

On December 1, 2009, an ANP politician Shamsher Ali Khan was killed at Swat.

On January 3, 2010, a former provincial NWFP Education Minister Ghani-ur Rehman was killed in a roadside bomb attack.

On July 25, 2010, the only son of the-then Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information, Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain, was gunned down and his friend injured in their ancestral town of Pabbi, Nowshera.

On January 4, 2011, an influential governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, succumbed to his multiple injuries after being shot by one of his bodyguards in Islamabad.

On May 28, 2012, a famous Karachi SP Shah Mohammad was killed. SP Shah Mohammad had taken part in the Karachi operation during the 1990s against a political party. While he was serving as an SHO, he was also nominated in the murder case of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain’s brother and nephew.

On October 15, 2012, a Senior Superintendent of Police (Rural), Khurshid Khan, and six others, including police and Frontier Constabulary personnel, were killed when more than 300 militants had attacked a police check-post set up on the main Peshawar-Kohat Road.

On November 7, 2012, an Assistant Superintendent of Police, Hilal Haider, and at least four others were killed and 30 injured by suicide bomber in Peshawar. In August 2013, Police DIG Fayyaz Sumbul was killed in Quetta.

It was again in Auguist 2013 that gunmen had sprayed bullets on a police vehicle in Gilgit-Baltistan’s Chilas town, killing serving Senior Superintendent Police Hilal Ahmed, an Army colonel Ghulam Mustafa and an Army Captain.

In January 2014, an eminent Karachi SSP Chaudhary Aslam was killed along with two other officers when a bomb had targeted his convoy on the Lyari expressway in the Port City.

In February 2017, DIG Traffic Police Captain (retd.) Ahmed Mubeen and Acting DIG Operations Zahid Ikram Gondal were killed in a suicide in an attack.