The desperate Awami National Party (ANP) has been caught in a hornet’s nest after calling an all parties conference (APC) on the issue of load-shedding. The party wants to hold the conference with all political parties in the province to present the case of unfair, excessive power outages in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) to the federal government.
However, most parties that the ANP has contacted so far all hold the same opinion: that the ANP is looking to salvage its own position by propping itself upon the shoulders of other local parties. All main opposition parties hold ANP equally responsible with the government for the current power crisis occurring in K-P and say it is too late to call the conference now, given that this has been an issue for the past four years.
Many feel that the ANP might have been better received in the area if they had protested the issue of the centralisation of power in Islamabad earlier.
On one hand, opposition parties are loudly criticising ANP and carrying out widespread demonstrations against the ruling party. On the other hand, they refuse to attend the APC, sending a strong message to the public to reject any moves made by ANP.
As a ruling party in K-P, the ANP has many feathers in its cap. It struggled to pass the 18th amendment that envisioned political autonomy for the province. It obtained royalties for province’s net hydel power and oil and gas production companies. It succeed in changing the province’s name as well. But above all it stood firm against militancy in Swat and Malakand.
However, this move is nerve-wracking for ANP since almost all political parties, including Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F), Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party Sherpao (PPPS) and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI), have boycotted the meeting and are cashing in on public sentiments against power outages. Many ridicule ANP’s symbol – the lantern – saying it will push people back to a time where they will be forced to use lanterns.
Although ANP has convinced the Pakistan Muslim League Quaid (PML-Q) and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) to attend the APC, they do not have the presence to have a significant effect on the load shedding.
Being a political party, the ANP has to recognise the difference between a war and a battle and not put everything they have worked for at stake against a single issue. It should not make rash statements and remind the public of its commitment to its word.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2012.