A tug-of-war has started in the Awami National Party (ANP) over the post of party’s president as its constitution has once again been amended against the wishes of the group led by Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour to allow Asfandyar Wali to contest for the post for a fourth consecutive term, an insider told The Express Tribune.
Wali was re-elected as ANP president three years ago after an amendment was made in the party’s constitution to remove the clause that barred him from running for the office for a third time.
Wali, whose third term will end in April 2011, has now been allowed to contest for the top slot for a fourth time running. Not only that, he is now eligible to contest for this office for as many terms as he deems necessary.
However, another ANP stalwart Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour is not happy with the decision of the central committee as he was lobbying to replace Wali as the party president.
Bilour, the incumbent central vice-president of the party, reportedly told his supporters in the ANP that the amendment in the party’s constitution was undemocratic. Making amendments in the party’s constitution for an individual would destroy ANP’s image, he told his supporters.
Azam Khan Hoti, the father of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti, who was also a contender for the party top slot, was however happy that the chances of Bilour becoming ANP’s chief have been diminished due to the amendment in the ANP constitution, an insider told The Express Tribune.
Wali told the central committee meeting last month that he was no more interested in running for the office as he had already achieved what was necessary for the province – a reference to his party’s struggle to have the province renamed as Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Another reason that he had cited was the constitutional hitch that barred him from contesting for the office for a fourth time.
Wali’s remarks resulted in an emotional situation in the central committee, the insider said. His loyalists, including Shahi Syed, Senator Nabi Bakhsh and Mian Iftikhar Hussain, while addressing the meeting said that the ANP and Pakhtuns still needed Wali Khan’s son to lead them.
They recommended removal of the constitutional provision that puts a limit on the number of the terms one person could run for the top office of the party.
Wali responded by saying he had no option but to accept the advice of the party leadership in the greater interest of the ANP and Pakhtuns. “I feel that I am being forced by the party leaders and poor Pakhtuns to accept the proposal,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 8th, 2010.