KARACHI: It is not easy to declare a victor or a loser in an underground war but when it comes to the animosity between Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and the Awami National Party, it appears that the latter has caved in to the threats and attacks from the former.
While other parties were busy campaigning for the elections on May 11, offices of the ANP started closing down after a string of attacks. Following the elections, in which the party failed to secure an impressive number of votes, units and wards offices of ANP across the province remained shut due to the looming fear of attacks by the outlawed TTP.
“Whether bearded or clean-shaven, we have threats from all the Taliban,” said a party leader, who requested not to be named. “They can attack us anytime and at anyplace - we have been attacked in mosques and even at funerals.”
According to him, party offices and political activities in most of the areas of the city, including Ittehad Town, Baldia, Orangi, Korangi, Landhi, Malir and Sohrab Goth, have been suspended since the general elections in May. Unlike the elections held in 2008, when the party immediately restarted its activities, ANP has failed to pick up momentum this time around. The party leader attribute this weary attitude towards political activities to the security threats as well. “The number of threatening calls from the militants has obviously gone down after the elections but we are on their target.”
Planning their comeback
ANP Sindh media cell in-charge Abdul Malik Achakzai says that 70 per cent of the party offices and their political activities are still suspended but will be resumed after Ramazan. According to Achakzai, the party has over 100 unit offices and 70 ward offices in Karachi. “We had fewer offices in the previous elections but they all remained opened and continued their activities before and after the elections,” he pointed out.
Achakzai added though that party activists are still threatened. “We will come out in the public with our full strength after Ramazan. Until then, our activities will remain limited.”
Even the party’s Sindh chapter president Shahi Syed admitted that security reasons and continued threats by the militants discourage them from resuming party activities.
Another reason he gave for the closure was to allow a “grace period” to the new government. “We believe that we should give at least three months to the new government to show its performance and deliver what it promised before the elections,” he explained. “Within this grace period, it could be ascertained whether or not the new government is sincere with the public.”
According to Syed, his party activists and leaders are still under threat and have no security arrangements from the government.
“Since we never took guns to arrange our own personal security, we have limited our activities and are staying silent to cope with the law and order situation,” he said, adding that ANP will vanish if it took up guns as weapons were against its ideology.
Once the three-month grace period is over, ANP Sindh will constitute its election cell and its Nangyalo Zalmi [a party wing that manages public meetings and rallies]. There will also be a restructuring of the organisation and officials, said Syed. ANP is also conducting an inquiry at its central level to figure out why it received such a severe blow in the elections.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 9th, 2013.
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