Awami National Party (ANP) chief Asfandyar Wali has drawn the chief election commissioner’s attention to the active threats posed by militant groups to his party’s leaders, its poll contenders and activists.
In a letter addressed to CEC Fakruddin G Ebrahim, Asfandyar catalogued some of the more recent attacks mounted against his party men – starting with this month’s bombing of a site visited by senior party leader and candidate for NA-4 Arbab Ayoub Jan following a poll related meeting.
“On April 12, there was an attack on the motorcade of Haji Rehmanullah, an ANP candidate for NA-13 in Swabi. A few weeks back, a contestant from Bannu Adnan Wazir was attacked. Two of his close supporters were killed in the attack and Adnan Wazir was injured,” Asfandyar said in his letter.
Despite serious threats to the ANP, the letter said, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has withdrawn the minimum security provided to the party senior leadership and contestants.
Even as the caretaker prime minister has ordered the interim administration to provide security to political leaders and each individual contestant, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government has withdrawn security protocol from ANP members.
As a result, Asfandyar Wali pointed out, the party’s existing political challenges have been compounded, restricting its outreach to voters and impeding its election campaign. Opponents of the ANP now have “undue advantage” over it.
“In the past, we were kept away from the masses by imprisonment, torture and exile. Today, we are being politically marginalised by the threat from the so called non-state terrorist actors who are openly sitting inside our country,” Asfandyar said.
It is the duty of the state to curb the menace of terrorism, according to the ANP leader. In the interest of free and fair elections, Asfandyar called upon the authorities to take urgent notice of terrorist threats to the party and ensure a level playing field by directing all the provincial governments to provide adequate security to the party’s leaders, members and contestants.
“I am afraid 2013 elections will not be free and fair, if terrorists are allowed to influence and determine the results and the ECP fails to take timely notice of it,” he added.
A copy of the letter was also forwarded to the president, the prime minister, chief justice of the Supreme Court and the chief ministers of all the four provinces.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th, 2013.