Both factions of the Awami National Party (ANP) – respectively led by Asfandyar Wali and his stepmother Begum Naseem Wali aka Bibi – are likely to reunite before the 2018 general elections as attempts for a rapprochement started by some relatives have borne fruit.
According to family sources, the ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan was likely to go on Friday to his native house in ‘Wali Bagh’ on the invitation of his nephew Lawangeen Wali Khan to patch up with Naseem, who was removed as ANP’s provincial chief after the party’s defeat in the 2002 polls.
The reception was, however, postponed at the eleventh hour due to sudden death of Naseem’s sister on Friday morning. All family members including Asfandyar attended her last rites in Mardan.
Both the mother and son who were struggling for Pakhtun rights side by side till 2002, when Asfandyar-led faction of ANP started protest against Naseem by submitting their resignations from party after ANP faced defeat in the 2002 election at the hands of religious parties’ alliance, MMA.
Begum Naseem Wali Khan was later made politically nonfunctional and confined to her house, to serve her bedridden husband, Wali Khan.
“It was a very difficult time for me at that stage – when my husband Wali Khan was on bed – to stop my political activities as I had started politics in 1976 when my husband was in jail under Hyderabad tribunal treason case,” Naseem had earlier told The Express Tribune in an interview.
She said the decision was also shocking for Wali Khan as he had acknowledged her political struggle. “But we accept it as for the greater cause of Pakhtun unity,” she had said in a voice full of grief.
Later when the ANP leadership also declined to give her ticket for Senate election after the party won from the province in 2008 elections, Bibi announced her own party, ANP-Wali after the 2013 elections, in which the ANP was once again defeated by PTI.
Although both mother and son have strong political differences, some family members – including the K-P’s former CM Amir Haider Khan Hoti and Lawangeen – have succeeded in convincing the two houses to mend fences. Hoti had earlier told The Express Tribune that the two factions of ANP would unite before the 2018 general election and he appears to have finally succeeded.
On June 19, the JUI-F leader Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani visited Wali Bagh after his Mardan visit and had Iftar dinner with Begum Naseem. Later, he also met Asfandyar. At that time, Lawangeen had confirmed Sherani’s meeting with Bibi but the ANP had refused to comment on the meeting.
A family source told The Express Tribune that Hoti and Aimal Wali Khan are scheduled to go to Hajj on 20 August and they had been invited by Lawangeen for dinner at Wali Bagh on Friday. “They had requested Asfandyar to attend the dinner and he agreed. Begum Naseem on the request of her grandson also decided to welcome her stepson where both families were to be united,” he added.
Farid Khan Tofan, who was also ousted from the party with Begum Naseem, expressed joy over possible reunification of both the houses of Wali and said this was his desire, which was going to be fulfilled.