After defeat on May 11 and a fact-finding report highlighting causes behind failure, the Awami National Party (ANP) has braced itself for a top-down reorganisation – no longer holding terrorist attacks as the sole cause of electoral defeat.
Former stalwarts, current leaders and even the party currently in power in the province seem to agree with the ANP’s critically slow but essential self-assessment.
“Unfair intra-party elections were responsible for the failure of the party in the general elections,” said Hashim Babar, former ANP finance secretary. Babar quit the party for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in April 2012.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Babar, the disgruntled PTI leader, alleged ANP provincial president Afrasiab Khattak was partly responsible for the May 11 crash.
“Foul methods” were adopted by ANP leaders to push their favourites forward during the last intra-party elections – candidates who did not enjoy public support, according to Babar.
The accusations did not stop there. The PTI associate maintained ANP’s membership drive was influenced by party stalwarts.
According to him, a former ANP MNA from Peshawar “purchased membership coupon books worth Rs3 million, but records of those books were not provided to the party convener.” Babar, however, chose not to reveal the identity of this erstwhile public representative.
For the sake of transparency, CNICs and contact details of new members have to be collected by the convener, but this was not the case with the ANP membership drive, he argued.
Accusing the former Peshawar MNA of trickle-up favouritism, Babar explained party members are the ones who select the party’s central, provincial and district councillors, and the former MNA handpicked party members from Peshawar district.
District and provincial councillors (selected by party members) then select 75% of the party’s general executive body. The remaining 25% are selected by ANP’s provincial and central leadership.
“During my 11 years with the party, the district, provincial and central council members have been selected without any competition. ANP Additional Secretary Tajuddin – a favourite – was selected [by the general executive body] without any opposition.”
However, the very same elections also saw Babar being elected as the finance secretary of the party.
At a news conference on Saturday, ANP President Asfandyar Wali Khan said the party will be reorganised after performing “poorly in general elections”. He acknowledged the defeat was also rooted in “internal weakness”.
“There is a weakness of policy, weakness of governance and weakness of organisation within the ANP,” said the leader, who has returned to Wali Bagh after five years. He added the report also found a lack of transparency in the ANP recruitment process.
Similar refrains of “weakness” were also echoed by Babar. A weakness anchored in inaction, favouritism and lack of transparency.
Babar claimed inactive party members were one of the causes behind “bad governance in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa during their (ANP) tenure” and the drubbing on May 11. “The vote of no confidence has never been used by the general executive body against the leadership as it is full of their favourites,” said Babar.
‘Poor provincial leadership’
An ANP provincial leader wishing to remain anonymous told The Express Tribune, “ANP performed poorly in elections because of the provincial party head. The fact-finding committee’s report shows 80% of the districts blame Afrasiab Khattak for ANP’s bad show.”
Countering the accusations, Afrasiab stated the fact-finding committee did not “target any individual; it was based on collective responsibility.”
According to the senior leader, “If people are blaming me for the party’s performance in elections, then it must be a personal bias,” for if the report had named names, it would be public knowledge.
It is said party members are satisfied with the newly-selected interim ANP chairman Senator Haji Adil and provincial election commission chairman Bashri Khan Matta.
“The ANP’s provincial election commission and organising committee will discuss election committees at a district level and for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas soon,” said Saddaruddin Khan, spokesperson for the provincial election commission.
Views from the roost
K-P Minister for Information Shah Farman told The Express Tribune the ANP has taken good steps towards democracy after defeat in May. Until parties exit hereditary politics, they will face defeat at the hands of the people of the country, stated Farman.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 5th, 2013.
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