Pakistan's 'Wyatt Earp' Killed in a Terrorist Attack

He was, perhaps, Pakistan's Wyatt Earp.

Sifwat Ghayur was a daredevil, brave enough to personally lead operations against terrorists who once shot him in the leg.

He spoke fluent French, had a bit of a temper, but was dead honest -- virtually nobody in northwest Pakistan had anything negative to say about him.

And when he took a posting in a new neighborhood, the locals always became convinced things would improve.

It was no surprise, then, that militants saw him as a threat and targeted him.

Today, they succeeded.

A lone suicide bomber in downtown Peshawar blew himself up next to Ghayur's vehicle, killing him along with three bodyguards and injuring 11.

His was not just another death in a terrorist attack in Pakistan. The Frontier Constabulary -- whose 25,000-strong paramilitary officers are often the front line forces against the Taliban -- has lost its chief, and northwest Pakistan has lost one of its most respected officers.

"This is a great loss," said a provincial official. "He was the best among the best."

Ghayur, the son of a former military general and a diplomat, is one of the highest ranking security officers ever assassinated in Pakistan. He led the Constabulary, which has received millions of dollars in aid from the United States to fight militants.

In many ways he was a role model, say those who knew him, courageous -- or crazy -- enough to be on the front lines of his own missions, never backing down publicly from criticizing a militancy that has wracked Pakistan's northwest province, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

His reputation was reinforced again and again, say those who knew him. Just a few months ago, he heard that police were fighting with militants on the outskirts of Peshawar. Ghayur was rushing to the scene when he found many of his own men standing around, not daring to participate in the fighting.

"What the hell are you guys doing back here," he screamed at his men, according to a police officer who knew him. He then took his vehicle and his own guards toward the fighting, telling his men that he was so disappointed in them, he was likely to shoot them if they suddenly decided to follow him.

Pakistan's Model Officer Killed

Ghayur served as the provincial head of the Intelligence Bureau as well as the chief of Peshawar's police force. Despite the violence that has afflicted the city in the last few years, many residents credited him with leading the fight against militants.

Given his history and stature, his death is a blow to all security forces in the northwest. It strikes at the heart of the provincial ruling elite. He was the provincial governor's cousin and the brother-in-law of a Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, Pakistan's former interior minister who is from a district outside of Peshawar.

"We have lost a very brave and able official in this cowardly attack," said Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the provincial information minister, told local journalists. "We will not feel threatened, and the fight will go on."

Hussain, an outspoken critic of the Taliban, knows all too well how threatening militants can be. His own son was killed a week and a half ago, and a suicide bomber exploded outside his house just days later.

The assassinations could mark a shift for insurgents in Peshawar, who have historically targeted populated places where they could inflict the most casualties.

Ghayur was killed when his vehicle stopped at a busy traffic light in a congested part of Peshawar, not far from his office.

"Rest in peace Sifwat Ghayur," wrote a Pakistani blogger who was family friends with Ghayur. "The world is a lesser place today."

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