Saturday September 24, 2022

The unending tragedies of Peshawar’s Bilour family

The Hindko-speaking Bilour family of Peshawar, hailing from Bajaur Agency in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), has witnessed several tragic deaths during the last two decades, research shows.

July 16, 2018

LAHORE: The Hindko-speaking Bilour family of Peshawar, hailing from Bajaur Agency in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), has witnessed several tragic deaths during the last two decades, research shows.

Just a fortnight before the July 25, 2018 polls, Awami National Party's candidate Barrister Haroon Bilour, late Bashir Bilour's son, was killed in a suspected suicide blast along with many others.

Married to a granddaughter of former Pakistani President, Ghulam Ishaq Khan, Haroon Bilour thus became the latest tragedy for the Bilour family on Tuesday (July 10). Another granddaughter of Ghulam Ishaq Khan had tied a marital knot with Omar Ayub Khan, son of former Pakistani Foreign Minister Gohar Ayub Khan and grandson of another former Pakistani President and Army Chief, Ayub Khan.

On April 3, 1997, former Railways Minister Haji Ghulam Ahmad Bilour's son, Shabbir Ahmad Bilour, was killed in a firing incident at a polling booth in Wazir Bagh (Peshawar) during a by-election for the NA-I seat.

On December 22, 2012, Ghulam Bilour's younger brother, Bashir Bilour (born on August 1, 1943, in Peshawar), was attacked and critically injured by a suicide bomber in Peshawar. This was the 5th life attack on him and, as was usual for Bilour, he had no guards escorting him.

Bashir Bilour had served as ANP's acting president twice – once after the resignation of Begum Nasim Wali Khan and the other time, after Afzal Khan Lala had stepped down. Bilour has also served as the provincial president of the ANP two times in his career.

In 1969, he married the daughter of Haji Gul Mohammad, popularly known as Gul Babu, a prominent personality of Peshawar. Following the 2008 elections, he was expected to be made the chief minister, a post later offered to Amir Haider Khan Hoti. Instead, he was made the parliamentary leader of ANP in the K-P Assembly and senior minister for local government and rural development.

Bashir Bilour's funeral prayers were held the following day at Peshawar's Colonel Sher Khan Army Stadium, attended by at least 2, 00,000 people despite grave security threats.

Research shows that in September 2012, Bashir Ahmad Bilour had distanced himself from the statement of his brother Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, who had offered a US$100,000 bounty for anyone, who killed the maker of an anti-Islam film "Innocence of Muslims."

Newspaper archives show that Ghulam Ahmad Bilour had also sought support of members of the Taliban and al Qaeda in this context, and was quoted as saying that if members of the banned militant organizations killed the maker of the blasphemous movie, they would also be rewarded the head-money he had announced.

Following the statement of Ghulam Bilour, he was criticized and his party ANP too.

On December 9, 2014, late Bashir Ahmad Bilour's son, Usman Bashir Bilour, had died of a heart attack in Islamabad.

The 40-year old Usman was President of the Pak-Afghan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industries at the time of his death, and had previously served as President of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chamber of Commerce and Industries from 2010 to 2011.

He was married to the daughter of a former Federal Minister, Arbab Noor Muhammad. On January 7, 2016, Khurshid Begum, the wife of Ghulam Bilour, had passed away after a prolonged illness.

The 78-year old Haji Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, son of Bilour Din Khan, was born on December 25, 1939 at Peshawar. He is the eldest of the four Bilour brothers.

Ghulam Ahmad Bilour was first seen on the political arena in 1965, when he participated in election campaign of Fatima Jinnah, while she was contesting for the seat of President against the country's ruler, Ayub Khan.

In 1970, one of the most vocal anti-Kalabagh Dam critics, Ghulam Ahmad Bilour became a close associate of non-violent Pakhtun leader Bacha Khan.

Only Ajmal Khattak and Afzal Khan Lala had remained associated with the National Awami Party (NAP), now called the Awami National Party (ANP) for a period longer than Bilour.

In 1973, just after three years of joining NAP, Ghulam Ahmad Bilour was arrested and imprisoned for three months.

He was again handcuffed in 1974 and languished in jail for another four months.

In 1975, the-then Pakistan People's Party (PPP) government had arrested all the four Bilour brothers, including Haji Ghulam Bilour.

A famous shopping centre of Bilour Family was destroyed and the Bilour House was evacuated.

In 1976, Ghulam Bilour was arrested in Hyderabad conspiracy case and sent to the Hyderabad Sindh Jail for two years alongwith the likes of Khan Abdul Wali Khan, Ghous Bux Bazenjo, Attaulah Mengal, Afzal Khan Lala, Arbab Sikandar Khan Khalil and other senior leaders of National Awami Party.

In 1982, Ghulam Bilour had to spend three months in Haripur Jail. In 1983, he and his brother Bashir Bilour were arrested yet again to serve one more year behind the bars.

In March 2012, Ilyas Ahmad Bilour, one of the four Bilour brothers, was elected Senator for the fourth term after having won election to the same house in the past on the ticket of Awami National Party on three previous occasions.

Ilyas had served as President as President of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), while his son Ghazanffar Bilour, who was also elected FPCCI President on December 31, 2017 by defeating a Karachi businessman, Haji Ghulam Ali, by 64 votes.

In February 2017, police had booked Ghazanffar Bilour on charges of rioting, confinement of public officials, and criminal intimidation after he had allegedly stopped taxmen from confiscating the records of a company whose office was raided on suspicion of tax evasion.

The incident took place in Peshawar when a team from the Federal Board of Revenue's Inland Revenue Directorate of Intelligence and Investigation had raided the premises of Ghazanffar Bilour's MKB Pharmaceuticals Private Limited.

The fourth Bilour brother, Aziz Bilour, has been a civil servant, rising to the position of a Federal Secretary, government of Pakistan.

On March 21, 2011, following intervention by the-then Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, a group of elders had succeeded in bringing to an end to the longstanding enmity between the the Akhunzadas and the Bilours, the two prominent political families of Peshawar.

As the truce was signed and the hatchet was buried as both families had announced to forgive each other at a meeting.

The families became enemies when Shabbir Ahmed Bilour, the lone son of Federal Minister for Railways Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, was shot dead at a polling station during by-election on a National Assembly seat in 1997.

Shabbir Bilour was killed after exchange of hot words with PPP leader and former provincial minister Syed Qammar Abbas, who had also received injuries in the incident.

On March 21, 2011, the daily "Dawn" had reported: "Both the families had registered cases against each other and police finally arrested Mr Abbas, who remained in prison for about three years. He was later acquitted and one of his bodyguards was convicted for the crime. On May 6, 2007, Mr Abbas and his friend Mohammad Ali Akhunzada, riding a motorcycle, were killed by unidentified attackers near Faqirabad Bridge in Peshawar. Four members of Bilour family --Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, his brother Bashir Ahmed Bilour and Haroon Bilour and Usman Bilour, both sons of Bashir Bilour -- were nominated in the case.

The accused had denied the charge."