By Zia Ur Rehman
December 6, 2013
After a humiliating defeat in the May elections, the Awami National Party (ANP) is facing internal conflicts.
Recently, party leader and senator Azam Khan Hoti made allegations of corruption on other leaders, especially Asfandyar Wali and Afrasyab Khattak. Amongst the first to refute the accusations was his son Amir Haider Hoti.
Then, veteran party leader Begum Nasim Wali announced her return to politics.
Begum Nasim Wali, the widow of Pashtun nationalist leader Abdul Wali Khan, said the politics of her step-son Asfandyar and her brother Azam Hoti were closed chapters.
“During the last five years, when the party ruled in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, it was controlled by a group involved in large-scale corruption and nepotism, and selling jobs and contracts,” she said in an address at the Peshawar Press Club. She asked ANP workers not to take part in the party’s membership drive.
Her critics in ANP say she has violated party discipline. Haji Adeel, the interim president of the party, said Begum Nasim Wali and her brother Azam Hoti were both involved in a conspiracy against the party and its leadership. “She is respectable for us as she is the widow of Wali Khan,” he said, “but she has violated party discipline by rejecting the party’s ongoing membership drive, announcing a jirga of the party, and calling a meeting without informing the party organization.”
Begum Nasim Wali had once been active in the party’s politics and served as its provincial president thrice. After Zulfikar Ali Bhutto banned the National Awami Party (NAP) in 1975 and put all of its leadership including Wali Khan in the Hyderabad jail, Nasim led the party. The NAP was resurrected as the National Democratic Party (NDP), and later named ANP. Under her leadership, the party won 13 seats in 1988, 23 in 1990 and 32 in 1997. She had won two general seats of the National Assembly in 1977 and became the first Pakistani woman to get elected twice, a record that was later broken by former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
Political observers believe she does not have the same influence that she did in the past. Although a sharp politician, she is in her late 70s and will be facing health constraints. “She would want to make a new faction of ANP, but it will be difficult because she does not have even a single influential leader of the party with her,” said Aziz Buneri, a Peshawar-based journalist.
“We have seen the making of several such Pashtun nationalist parties in the past – including Afzal Khan Lala’s Pakhtunkhwa Qaumi Party, Ajmal Khattak’s National Awami Party Pakistan, and the various progressive groups led by Afrasyab Khattak and Latif Afridi,” Buneri said. “Some of them merged with the ANP, and other disappeared”.
Background interviews with party leaders in Mardan and Peshawar suggest Nasim is trying to bring her grandson Lawangin Wali, son of late Sangeen Wali, into mainstream politics to counter Asfandyar’s son Aimal Wali. Billboards and posters of Lawangin along with the pictures of Baacha Khan, Wali Khan, Nasim and his father Sangeen Wali, can already be seen in Charsadda.
“Aimal Wali is already participating in the party activities and ANP leaders are dealing him as the future head of the party,” said a former parliamentarian from Mardan. “Like the power tussle in the Bhutto family, the recent battle between Asfandyar and Nasim is in fact over which of their children will head the party in the future.”
Earlier this year, ANP chief Asfandyar Wali had formed a fact-finding committee to determine why the party lost the general elections, and dissolved all the organizations of the party from the central to union council level, announcing a new membership campaign. Organizing committees have been constituted at provincial and district levels to monitor the membership campaign and arrange intra-party elections.
The ANP bore the brunt of pre-election violence against political candidates, party offices and meetings — most of which was caused by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and associated groups, according to a report titled ‘Elections and Violence Monitoring Report’ made by Islamabad-based Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies (PIPS).
The ANP was targeted 37 times in almost all the provinces from where it was contesting the polls, the report said.