Electioneering: Defying Taliban threats, ANP stages rally in Waziristan

NA-41 candidate Ayaz Wazir calls upon ANP workers to support him.

Zulfiqar Ali April 13, 2013
Nisar Lala speaks at a rally in Wana’s Rustum Bazaar. PHOTO: EXPRESS


Defying threats from the Taliban and warnings from a powerful local warlord, a secular Pakhtun nationalist party staged a public rally in the militant-infested South Waziristan tribal region on Friday.

The ultraconservative Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which is responsible for most terrorism in the country, has vowed to target secular politicians from the Awami National Party, Pakistan Peoples Party and Muttahida Qaumi Movement in the run-up to the next month’s parliamentary elections.

On April 4, Salauddin Ayubi, aka Bahwal Khan, who leads the powerful Mullah Nazir Group of militants, invited local politicians to a ‘tea party’ where he set certain preconditions for those aspiring to contest the elections. He promised that his group would not stop anyone from voting. At the same time, he warned the ANP against holding public meetings in the open citing threats from the TTP.

However, ANP’s candidate for NA-41 (Tribal Area-VI, South Waziristan), Muhammad Ayaz Khan Wazir, staged a rally in the Rustam Bazaar area of Wana, the main town of South Waziristan Agency, on Friday. Dozens of his supporters walked from the Spin bus stand to Shah Alam Adda and back. The rally was followed by a public meeting.

Salauddin Ayubi had warned the ANP against using party flags at public places. Participants of Friday’s rally carried white flags with lantern (ANP’s election symbol) painted on it. However, the banners and posters featured pictures of ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan, his father Khan Wali Khan, and his grandfather Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan.

“I call upon Bacha Khan’s followers to join me. Any ANP worker who does not support me will be suspended and his party membership will be revoked,” Ayaz Wazir said while addressing the gathering. He was referring to Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, the founder of Red Shirt Movement, who was lovingly called ‘Bacha Khan’ by his supporters.

A local Pashtu poet and ANP supporter, Nisar Ahmad Nisar, aka Nisar Lala, also addressed the gathering. “Political awareness is needed in the tribal belt for change and progress,” he said.

He also hit out at the political administration of the region, asking them to stop ‘usurping’ the rights of local tribesmen. Two thousand rupees are deducted from the salary of each Khasadar (tribal policeman) since February 2013 as punishment for their failure to stop the burning of vehicles on Gomel Zam Road.

Calling it an ‘unjust and unfair’ decision, Nisar Lala demanded the political administration stop punishing the Khasadars under the draconian ‘collective responsibility’ law of the Frontier Crimes Regulation, or FCR.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 13th, 2013.


Zubair | 8 years ago | Reply

Zulfiqar Ali has done a great job..risking his life and conveying happenings in Waziristan to the length and breadth of the world needs a pat on his back...Shabaash Zulfiqar Ali!

Reza Dewan | 8 years ago | Reply

Great report on the politcal activity and election climate experienced by the people of FATA. Anp should be commended for its steadfastness amid the dangerous threats of anti democartic militant outfits operating outside the ambit of the law. Also journlalist like Mr Zulfikar Ali deserve our thanks for the courageous manner which they cover the election in fata and at great personal risk to their lifes. We salute you sir.

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