The Awami National Party (ANP) seems to be in a state of decline with many party leaders parting ways.
The ANP leadership, however, shuns the impression that the party’s future may be bleak and that it’s becoming less vibrant as a political force. “Those leaving us are not ideological workers and will have no negative impact on the party,” said Provincial General Secretary Arbab Tahir.
The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) also scored points against the ANP when it organised the all-parties conference (APC), in addition to the 70-member tribal jirga to push for peace talks with the Taliban.
The JUI-F is now in a better position to convince the public that it is a viable force to bring peace in the region. The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has also thrown its weight behind the JUI-F and both parties have a good chance of working together through seat adjustments in the upcoming elections. This will create further pressure on the ANP in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).
The ANP received another blow in its Charsadda stronghold after MPA Abdul Shakoor Khan, who contested the 2008 elections on an ANP ticket, joined the JUI-F.
MPA Taimoor Khan, another politician from Charsadda, may also part ways with the ANP and might contest the elections as an independent candidate, while ANP leader Bashir Umerzai is entangled in courts over a murder case. It is unlikely that the ANP will award him a party ticket in such circumstances.
Parliamentarian Pir Dilawar Shah, who was elected from Kohat on an ANP ticket in 2008, joined the Pakistan Peoples Party along with his brother Pir Adil Shah on February 26.
Meanwhile the party’s former prison minister, Mian Nisar Gul, also handed in his resignation and accused the party of corruption at a public meeting in Karak. He claimed that the party only worked and appropriated development funds for Charsadda, Nowshera and Peshawar districts, while ignoring the rest of the province.
People familiar with the matter say more party members will leave the ANP once it announces its candidates for the general elections.
Although the party was successful in the 2008 polls by winning 48 provincial assembly seats, it could not solidify its position in K-P’s southern districts, including Kohat, Karak, Bannu, Hangu, Lakki Marwat and DI Khan.
The ANP stance against militancy could bring it some success, but the party has lost points in maintaining a relationship with the public.
Due to militant attacks on its leadership, the movement of workers has also been limited. Interaction with the public is much needed if the ANP wants to remain a vibrant party. In spite of all this, their efforts are much in vain because people did not get any relief in terms of the number of terrorist attacks. This has further polarised the party.
More and more party workers are in search of safety to avoid militant threats. As a result, they are joining other parties that are relatively safer for their political careers.
These cumulated effects are taking a harsh toll on the ANP and its fast losing its popularity as a political force to be reckoned with in K-P.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 11th, 2013.
Correction: An earlier version of the article incorrectly stated that Abdul Shakoor Khan is a provincial minister. The error has been rectified.
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