PESHAWAR: A major opposition party in the province on Monday reiterated its vow to resist any move by the government to roll back the 18th amendment of the Constitution.
This was stated by the Awami National Party (ANP) President Asfandyar Wali Khan while addressing a meeting of the central council of the party on Monday at the Bacha Khan Markaz where senior leaders of the party were present.
Asfandyar further announced the schedule of the intra-party election which is due to be held on April 30, 2019.
Taking a swipe at the incumbent Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the ANP chief said that the party had been ‘selected’ into power and imposed on the people.
Such a party, he argued, had no right to amend or roll back such an important constitutional amendment for which not just the ANP, but other parties had also sacrificed.
He added that owing to the amendment, all the provinces had secured rights over their own resources and attained financial autonomy for which they have been yearning since independence.
“We are not ready to give it back,” warned Asfandyar. “We are ready to render any sacrifice but no one will be allowed to roll it back .”
The amendment was passed during the last tenure of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and it became an act of parliament when then president Asif Ali Zardari signed the bill into law on April 19, 2010.
The ANP leadership at the time had declared the law as a major success and giant leap toward securing rights of provinces.
Referring to the Kalabagh Dam issue which has resurfaced recently, the ANP chief said that the dam should not be turned into a battle of egos.
The federal government, he suggested, should focus on the construction of other water reservoirs in the country. He reminded that all the three provinces have already passed resolutions against the controversial dam.
Responding to remarks from the Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar that anyone speaking against the dams would be prosecuted as a traitor under Article 6, Asfandyar remarked that the law should first be applied to those who had failed to make any dam and rather obsessed over Kalabagh despite the fact that the first ever unanimous resolution passed by three assemblies in 1986 was against its construction.
“It was due to the ego of the federal government and the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) officials due to which they could not build any other water reservoirs,” the ANP chief remarked, warning that the ANP will not allow the dam’s construction and will always oppose this particular dam.
The ANP chief further said that it was unfortunate that Pakistan’s relationship with all neighbours, except perhaps China, was not friendly.
He called for improving ties with all countries through a process of negotiation on the basis of equality and mutual respect.
“Pakistan should also talk to Afghanistan on the basis of equality, just like it wants with India,” Asfandyar urged.
Talking about the issue of granting nationality to Afghan refugees born in Pakistan, he said that some have lived in this country for three generations and hence should qualify for nationality since they sacrificed for wars which were not their own and were brought here.
“Their land has been used and millions of Afghans were killed in wars for global power,” said Asfandyar.
The ANP leadership also slammed the Increase in gas and power prices and asked the government to withdraw them giving some relief to the common man instead of burdening them.
The party also slammed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), terming it a powerless body who has lost the trust of all political parties after the July 25 elections.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 2nd, 2018.