As the Awami National Party (ANP) finds itself increasingly threatened in the run up to the elections, scores of ward offices have been abandoned in Peshawar on the directives of the party’s leadership.
The ANP has advised its workers to reach voters in person instead of gathering at ward offices.
To continue their election campaign and compete with rightwing political parties whose offices remain open, the ANP has formed five-member awami rabita committees (people coordination committees) and three-member election committees to carry out campaigning.
ANP PK-2 constituency president Syed Nazir Baghi admitted the party’s campaign had faded due to terrorist threats. He maintained, however, that local party leaders were actively carrying out door-to-door drives. Baghi further said although the current wave of violence against the ANP had restricted the party’s leadership from addressing public gatherings, people’s sympathies for them had increased and scores of disgruntled party workers had vowed to continue campaigning in favour of the ANP.
“People are inviting us to hold public gatherings in their areas despite security threats but we (party leaders) are avoiding it because we do not want more bloodshed,” said Baghi, adding most of the party’s public activities regarding the elections were being held at Bilour House.
ANP PK-4 president, Zahid Hussain, said some offices in the constituency had been temporarily closed due to terrorist threats, but party workers were actively carrying the ANP’s message in person. Hussain argued targeting the party had backfired on the militants as more people had begun to sympathise with the ANP. “People in Peshawar are watching how some forces are trying to sideline the ANP through a pre-planned conspiracy. We are sure people will vote for us in reaction to these extremist forces,” he said confidently.
“A particular rightwing political party is busy maligning the ANP and its leadership in Peshawar,” alleged ANP Provincial Information Secretary Malik Ghulam Mustafa. He added the ANP was being targeted as it was the only party that stood against militants. Criticising other political parties of not condemning extremists, Mustafa further said ANP activists would continue their election campaign despite the mounting threat.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 28th, 2013.