There is a growing resentment in the lower cadres of the Awami National Party (ANP) against the party chief Asfandyar Wali Khan’s ‘prolonged’ stay abroad ostensibly for security concerns, party insiders told The Express Tribune.
Several party members had raised the issue during a meeting of the ANP’s central executive committee in Peshawar last week.
Khan, who is also a member of the National Assembly, resides in Dubai, along with his family after his house was attacked a couple of years ago by a Tehreek-i-Taliban (TTP) suicide bomber.
However, party sources said that distance also affected the level of his involvement in the party affairs.
In his absence, Senator Afrasayab Khattak, a party veteran, is looking after party affairs.
Now, however, several top leaders are criticising Wali Khan’s decision to leave the country, saying that his action has hurt the party’s organisation and discipline.
“We have told Asfandyar Khan that if Bashir Bilour and Mian Iftikhar can live in Pakistan despite similar threats, he must do the same,” one party leader asserted.
Bashir Bilour, one of the pary’s stalwarts from Peshawar, has been attacked several times by the Taliban. However, unlike Asfandyar Wali, the minister never left the country or abandoned his public activities.
Similarly, Mian Iftikhar, who is the information minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa, lost his son in a suicide attack claimed by TTP but the loss did not deter him from performing his public duties.
Insiders confirmed that Wali Khan faced a lot of criticism by party colleagues during the CEC and promised his loyalists to reformulate his plans for returning to the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 4th, 2011.