With the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) breathing down their neck, the Awami National Party’s (ANP) Sindh leadership has decided to carry out a door-to-door political campaign for the upcoming elections, The Express Tribune learnt on Monday.
The party’s Sindh president, Shahi Syed, verified the information, saying that the security threats by the TTP-backed Taliban were making it difficult for the party to conduct large public meetings and rallies. The party will, however, contest elections on almost 15 seats of the Sindh Assembly and eight seats of the National Assembly. Activists will hold public meetings and gathering at their relevant localities.
“Almost 35 leaders and office-bearers of our party have been killed by the Taliban, who have even claimed responsibility for their killings,” said Syed, who avoids travelling unnecessarily in Karachi and makes undisclosed visits because of the threats. “Almost five leaders of our party have left Karachi and migrated to Islamabad because of threatening calls from different people who identify themselves as the Taliban. The TTP has also accepted these calls. The callers ask for payment of extortion money and demand the leaders to leave ANP.”
Around 35 offices of ANP at Sohrab Goth, Ittehad Town, Manghopir, Sultanabad, Kwanri Colony, Pashtunabad and Landhi have been closed by the militants, Syed told The Express Tribune. Party flags have reportedly been removed from these areas while some of the offices have also been attacked.
Do or die
When asked if the party will boycott the elections, Syed replied in the negative. “We will participate in the elections at any cost. We will die fighting if we have to – those who boycott the elections, eventually vanish from the political scene altogether.”
He said that their party leaders have taken nomination papers from the election commission and the ANP’s parliamentary board will decide the names of the candidates for the provincial and national assembly seats. “Despite all the threats and difficulties, our party will be successful in the public’s court. We will come through with high achievements in the elections due to the party’s historical sacrifices for the country.”
ANP’s central committee member, Sultan Khan Mandokhail, was in agreement with Syed’s opinions. “It is not easy for us to hold large rallies in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Karachi because of the security threats from militants. But we will still go, meet our people and ask for their votes,” said Mandokhail who has been associated with the party for decades.
“We will hold rallies and public meetings at every constituency, no matter who threatens us,” said Zaman Chagharzai of the ANP. If granted a ticket from the party, Chagharzai will contest the elections on the National Assembly seat NA-239. “Our party has been threatened at every period on different grounds – we have been called traitors and infidels, but we will continue our struggle.”
To contest or not to contest
ANP Sindh won two seats of the Sindh Assembly in Karachi, PS-93 and PS-128, on which former provincial labour minister, Ameer Nawab, and Amanullah Mehsud were elected respectively. This time around, however, both constituencies, which cover SITE, Landhi, Feature Colony and Quaidabad, will be tricky for the party because of the security threats posed by the Taliban presence in these areas. According to Chagharzai, the party has threats at PS-90, PS-93, PS-94, PS-96, PS-128, PS-129, and PS-126.
The following constituencies of the Sindh Assembly cover the areas of Pashtun majority
PS-90 Ittehad Town, Baldia Town, Mawach Goth
PS-93 Frontier Colony, Metrovill, Pathan Colony, Banaras
PS-94 Areas of Orangi Town, including Fareed Colony, Faqeer Colony, Afridi Colony and Tori Bangash
PS-96 Qasba Colony, Kuwanri Colony, Pukhtunabad, Mianwali, Baloch Colony, Bukhari Colony, Aligarh, Pirabad and a portion of Manghopir
PS-128 Muslimabad, Bilal Colony, Sherpao, Dawood Chali, Feature Colony, Mansehra Colony and Sharafi Goth
PS- 129 Quaidabad, Qazafi Town, Gulistan Society, Rehri Goth, Muzffarabad, Cattle Colony
PS-126 Covers the areas of Gadap Town, Sohrab Goth and Super Highway.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 27th, 2013.