Pakistan Minister Buried Amid National Mourning
December 23, 2012
by RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal
A Pakistani provincial minister killed by a Taliban suicide bomber has been buried amid national mourning.
On December 23, thousands of mourners paid their last respects to Bashir Bilour, senior minister of the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. He was buried in the provincial capital Peshawar.
Bilour was killed along with eight other people after a suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest in a political gathering on December 22.
Bilour was the apparent target of the bombing, for which the Pakistan Taliban claimed responsibility. The group has vowed to target more secular politicians.
Mian Iftikhar Hussain, information minister of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, paid tribute to his slain colleague, saying he had a clear stance against terrorism.
"He fought with bravery against it. I salute his greatness. I salute his sacrifice. People like him never die. My son also died [in an armed attack]. If my homeland can be a better place with my blood, we are ready to sacrifice. All parties should come together and be on the same page [against terrorism]," Hussain said.
Bilour, 69, was an outspoken critic of the Pakistani Taliban. He was the leader of the Awami National Party, which is a secular group that has ruled the province for about five years and has aggressively opposed Islamist insurgents.
December 23 was declared a day of national mourning.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari described Bilour's death as 'a national loss.'
'Bashir Bilour will always be remembered as a martyr who never flinched in the fight against militancy,' Zardari said.
With reporting by AP and dpa
Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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