PESHAWAR - Former provincial minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf candidate for PK-99 Ikramullah Khan Gandapur was martyred and six persons including his driver and two police guards were seriously injured in a suicide attack near his hometown Kulachi in Dera Ismail Khan on Sunday, three days before the nation votes in general elections.
This was the fifth terror incident that targeted the election rallies during the last 12 days throughout the country.
Local sources and police said that Gandapur was on way back from a corner meeting of the party when a suicide bomber targeted his convoy near Noori Darbar village, Dera Ismail Khan. Gandapur and the six other injured were rushed to the Combined Military Hospital DI Khan where he succumbed to injuries while his driver and guards were in critical condition.
District Police Officer Zahoor Afridi said eight to 10 kilograms of explosives were used in the suicide blast. The DPO said 12 police personnel had been deployed for his security, however, Gandapur did not inform the relevant authorities about his visit and he took only two police personnel with him for the corner meeting.
He “succumbed to his injuries in Combined Military Hospital,” Zahoor Afridi told reporters.
Video images from the scene showed three bleeding and unconscious passengers inside a badly damaged black sports utility vehicle.
The blast also damaged nearby houses and two vehicles.
The funeral prayer of Gandapur would be offered on Monday (today) morning in Kulachi. Though reportedly the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the death of Ganadpur, however, it was not confirmed from independent sources.
Resultantly, the election commission has postponed election PK-99 after the death of Gandapur.
Ganadapur was elected to the provincial assembly from PK-67 DI Khan when his brother, Israrullah Gandapur, was targeted in a similar suicide attack on the first day of Eid greetings in 2013. Later Gandapur was elected MPA from this constituency. Gandapur served as provincial minister for agriculture and remained in the last PTI government.
After the death of Israrullah Gandapur, the family had registered an FIR against Ali Amin Gandapur and his brothers for conspiring against them.
The Gandapur family remained active in politics for long as Ikramullah’s father Inayatullah Gandapur was the chief minister in Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s government from 1973 to 1975 and was dismissed unceremoniously due to the assassination of Hayat Sherpao. Besides this, Inayatullah was also the finance minister in the cabinet of Mufti Mahmood.
Like his father Inayataullah, Ikramullah also used to wear a hat and remained active in politics after the death of his brother Israrullah. His third brother Inamullah Gandapur also remained on key posts in FIA and the excise and taxation department.
As political parties step up campaigning, attacks across the country have stoked fears of more violence. Terrorists continue to target high-profile personalities aimed at postponing the elections.
It was the fifth major attack in last 12 days as on July 13, over 150 people, including BAP candidate Siraj Raisani, were killed and over 150 injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up in election gathering in Mastung.
Earlier, a suicide blast at an election rally on July 10 in Peshawar had killed 21 people including ANP candidate Haroon Bilour.
HIGH-PROFILE COMMITTEE TO PROBE
KP Caretaker Chief Minister Dost Mohammad Khan also strongly condemned the incident and directed the police high-ups to arrest the responsible. The chief minister also ordered to form a high-level committee to probe the tragic incident.
Representatives of IB, ISI, officials of counter-terrorism, SSP operation and SSP investigation would be members of the investigation committee.
DURRANI ESCAPES ANOTHER ATTACK IN BANNU
JUI-F central leader and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa former chief minister Akram Khan Durrani on Sunday escaped a firing attack while campaigning in his hometown Bannu.
Durrani, who is contesting elections on the NA-35 seat, remained unhurt in the attack.
Police said that unidentified gunmen opened fire on the vehicle of Durrani in the Basia Khel area while he was en route to an election meeting. The attackers escaped.
Since Durrani’s vehicle was a bulletproof SUV and the bullets could not penetrate the windshield. Akram Durrani is contesting elections on a ticket of the MMA against PTI chief Imran Khan from NA-35 Bannu.
This was the second attack on Durrani as he escaped unhurt in a bomb blast on July 13 in the Huwaid area in Bannu while he was on his way after addressing an election rally. The bomb blast had resulted in the death of four people and injuries to 10 others.
On July 10, a suicide bomber targeted the election meeting of the ANP in Peshawar, killing its candidate for PK-78 Haroon Bilour along with 22 others and injuring 35.
COAS CONDEMNS GANDAPUR’S MARTYRDOM
Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa strongly condemned the martyrdom of Ikramullah Gandapur.
Gen Bajwa said the nation and the army will stay determined and steadfast in the face of cowardly acts of terrorism.
Expressing the grief on the martyrdom of Gandapur in a suicide attack, the army chief said, “We have lost another patriotic political leader, who was targeted by enemies of peace and democratic process”. He said “the blood of our martyrs shall not go waste”.
PRESIDENT DIRECTS FOR SECURITY OF CANDIDATES
President Mamnoon Hussain while expressing his grief over death of Ikramullah Gandapur voiced his concerns over increasing incidents of violence during the ongoing polls canvassing.
The president directed the concerned authorities to ensure protection of all the aspiring candidates, every inhabitant of the country and their properties, so that the general election could be held in a peaceful atmosphere, a press release issued in Islamabad said.
The president observed that it was the primary duty of the caretaker government and other concerned national institutions to ensure holding of a free, fair and transparent political process by removing all the hurdles, so that the country could be saved from the bitter experiences of the past.
The president also noted with concern that the increasing trend of intolerance during the electioneering was very painful which could further impact the political process.
He also expressed his grief over another attack targeting Akram Khan Durrani.
The president prayed for the soul of late Ikramullah Gandapur and expressed condolence with the bereaved family.
Prime Minister Justice (retd) Nasir-ul-Mulk expressed grief over the demise of Ikramullah Gandapur. The prime minister condoled with the bereaved family and prayed for peace of the departed soul.
CEC ANNOYED OVER INAPPROPRIATE SECURITY
Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sardar Mohammad Raza Khan has expressed annoyance over inappropriate security arrangements for candidates despite reports of threats to them.
In a statement issued in Islamabad, he strongly condemned the suicide attack on Gandapur. Expressing his deep grief and sorrow, Sardar Raza sought report from caretaker KP chief minister, inspector general police and chief secretary.
The CEC directed that foolproof security should be provided to all candidates contesting the general election without any discrimination and an environment of peace must be ensured for holding free, fair and transparent election.
IMRAN FOR THOROUGH PROBE
PTI Chairman Imran Khan has expressed grief and sorrow over the martyrdom of Ikramullah Gandapur. Imran said attackers were targeting election rallies indiscriminately. “But our enemies won’t ever be able to weaken our resolve or divide us,” he added.
Demanding an investigation into the attack, the PTI chief urged the Election Commission to ensure peaceful elections and security of candidates, saying the culprits should be given exemplary punishment.