ANP activists surprised over reserved seat priorities

Say vocal activist Bushra Gohar, Jameela Gilani should have been placed higher on the list

Bushra Gohar, Jameela Gilani. PHOTO: FILE.

A list of its priority candidates for the reserved seats for women and minorities for the upcoming general elections submitted to the top poll body has surprised and angered many diehard ANP activists and workers who have taken to social media to bash the party.

The Awami National Party (ANP) on Monday had submitted its priority list for the reserved seats of women and minorities to the Election Commission of Pakistan for the general elections. These lists were soon posted on social media.

As per the list for national assembly seats, the ANP had kept Shazia Aurangzeb of Mardan at the top of its priority list for women. She was followed by Yaseem Zia on second, Dr Shaheen Zameer on third, and Rabia Sattar on fourth.

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Party stalwart Bushra Gohar was placed fifth and Jameela Gilani was placed last.

"We were surprised to see the decision of the parliamentary board as we were expecting Bushra Gohar to be on top followed by Jameela Gilani," said a senior ANP activist who requested anonymity.

The decision triggered anger among the ideological workers of the party, he said, adding that the decision sends out a negative message and will discourage party workers and activists who voluntarily run party political campaigns.

“No one in the list matches the stature of Gohar and Gilani who have raised their voices for human rights in the country and for the rights of Pashtuns. It is like awarding an ANP ticket to some new and unpopular person from Charsadda rather than [party chief] Asfandyar Wali Khan,” he said, adding party should not have submitted the priority list just for fulfilling a formality.

Gohar served the party as a member of the national assembly on a reserved seat from 2008 to 2013 while Gilani was a member of K-P assembly on the reserved seat in 2008 elections. They both remain popular with ANP supporters for their active roles.

Party activists, discussing the decision on the social media, were of the opinion that Gohar had been ignored for her vociferous support of Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), which the party has been criticising publicly.

The priority lists, however, once submitted to the ECP cannot be altered afterwards as per the ECP rules, particularly after the last date of the submission of nomination papers. Seats will now be allotted to nominees according to the list.

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Gohar Nangyal, another activist of the party from Swabi, was also unhappy with the decision, stating that the parliamentary board which had decided party tickets for the general seats and the priority lists for the reserved seats had been likely influenced by a certain group in the party and that party members were not taken into confidence in finalising the lists and tickets.

Nangyal said that he too wanted to see Gohar placed on top followed by Gilani at second in the list, “merit has been bypassed and party’s ideological workers are not happy with the decision only those who are paid employees are defending the decision,” Nangyal said.

Sources in the party said that at the moment, former K-P minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti’s group is holding sway in deciding who gets tickets.

“When Afrasiab Khattak had sway, he brought Gohar and Gilani into the assemblies because they were like-minded. Now, when Haider Khan and Himayatullah Mayar are influential, they are bringing their own faces,” remarked another senior leader in the party.

Sources in the party said that party provincial president Haider Khan believes in power politics, thus he wants those candidates brought to the fore who can win seats for him and he gives preference to such people over ideological workers of the party.

Sources further disclosed that Aurangzeb, who has had stints in both the Pakistan People’s Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), is quite wealthy and can add bite to her electoral fight.

Dr Zameer, who is third on the list, is said to be close to Aurangzeb.

“It was decided that the tickets would be given to candidates who have support from district members of the party and a majority of the tickets were allotted are based on recommendations of party members in each district,” the source said, adding that for reserved seats, the same principle was said to be adopted but, “I am not sure that it was adopted because Gohar hails from Swabi and in Swabi she has no opponents who would have opposed her nomination.”

There has also been an uproar on the ANP handing a ticket to Mayar, who is said to have played a pivotal role in the murder of Abdul Wali Khan University journalism student Mashal Khan for alleged blasphemy.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 13th, 2018.

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