Thursday, June 11, 2009

President confers Hilal-e-Shujaat on veteran politician

ISLAMABAD, June 10 (APP) ‑ President Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday conferred Hilal‑i‑Shujaat on veteran politician and former federal and provincial minister from NWFP Muhammad Afzal Khan Lala at a special investiture ceremony held at Aiwan e Sadr on Wednesday. The investiture ceremony was attended among others by Chairman ANP Asfandyar Wali Khan, Governor NWFP Owais Ahmad Ghani, Cabinet members, provincial ministers, parliamentarians and other high officials.
Hilal‑i‑Shujaat has been conferred on Muhammad Afzal Khan Lala in recognition of the great courage and steadfastness demonstrated by him in the war against militants in Swat region.
The citation read out on the occasion also said “With granite determination he refused to abandon his village and inspired his people to stand up to bigotry, fanaticism and extremists.
Talking to media, Spokesman for President former Senator Farhatullah Babar said about three months ago, the provincial assembly of NWFP adopted a unanimous resolution urging the President to immediately confer Hilal‑i‑Shujaat on the “courageous and respectable Pukhtoon leader Muhammad Afzal Khan Lala for courage in fighting against militancy and for the survival of Pakistan”.
Afzal Khan fondly called Lala in Frontier belongs to village Drush Khela in Swat. When the victims of militants’ brutalities were streaming out of Swat for safety, the 78 years old Afzal Khan stood up against the militants and refused to abandon his ancestral home for fear of life, he said.
Afzal Khan stood like a rock against the militants and refused to heed the advice to migrate to a safer place. He miraculously survived several attempts on his life by militants who wanted to eliminate him to remove from the scene a symbol of defiance and courage. He and his nephew were seriously wounded in the attack. In another attack his two grandsons were assassinated and body guards seriously injured.
The conferment of Hilal‑i‑Shujaat on Afzal Khan also signifies determination of the President to honour symbols of courage in the fight against militants and to assure the victims that the state will not abdicate its duty to protect them.

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