PESHAWAR: The Awami National Party (ANP) seems to be fishing in troubled waters during the upcoming general elections mainly owing to decision of its former lawmakers to part ways with the party.
Nine former lawmakers of the party, including three provincial ministers and two National Assembly members, have either quit the ANP or have rebelled against the party decision and decided to contest the polls as independent candidates.
Muhammad Zarshaid Khan, former provincial minister for Zakat and Ushr, is the recent one who quit ANP on Wednesday. The party awarded ticket to run for PK-31 (Swabi-1). However, in a surprise move the appellate board of the party withdrew the ticket and awarded it to Gul Zamin Shah.
This led to a knee-jerk response from the former legislator, Zarshaid Khan who tendered resignation from the party and levelled allegations against its leadership. Gul Zamin contested the 2008 general election as an independent candidate from the same constituency.
Earlier, former member of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly from PK-5 Atifur Rahman, who was refused party ticket, announced to contest election as an independent candidate. He also announced to stand for National Assembly seat NA-2.
Though party leaders tried hard to convince him, they failed to do so. The party awarded ticket to ANP provincial General Secretary Arbab Tahir Khalil to contest election from PK-5.
Fazle Shakoor Khan, ANP lawmaker from PK-17 (Charsadda-I), left the party, anticipating that he would not get the party ticket. The former MPA developed differences with the party leadership and before announcement of the elections he had made up his mind to quit the party.
He joined Jamiat-Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and will contest election from its platform. The ANP awarded ticket to Muhammad Ahmad Khan, son of late Major (R) Mukhtar Khan and he will contest the election from the same constituency.
Likewise, Mian Nisar Gul Kakakhel contested 2008 election from PK-40 (Karak-I) as an independent candidate. However, after the election he joined the nationalist party and became minister for prisons.
He remained associated with the party till last days of its rule. Sources close to Nisar Gul told The Newsthat he was told by his “well-wishers” to wash away the ANP tag if he wanted to win support in the next election.
Qazi Muhammad Asad is another former provincial minister who contested the 2008 election from PK-50 (Haripur-II) as an independent candidate and later joined the party and secured a berth in the provincial cabinet. He was given the ministry of higher education.
Sources in the party said “understanding” has been struck with Qazi Asad under which he would contest the upcoming elections as independent candidate and will rejoin the party after the polls. However, to the surprise of ANP leadership, Qazi Asad joined the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and is to contest election from its platform.
Amjad Khan Afridi is another ANP minister who didn’t apply for the ticket and would contest the upcoming election as independent candidate. He won the 2008 election from PK-37 (Kohat-I) and joined the ANP and got the portfolio of housing in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa cabinet. It is interesting to note that the ANP did not award ticket to anyone for PK-37, and it seems that “arrangement” has been made with him.
Ahmad Khan Bahadar, an ANP lawmaker from PK-24 (Mardan-II), failed to get the party ticket for general elections. However, he did not accept the party decision and announced to contest election as an independent candidate.
The ANP awarded party ticket to Ali Khan, who is the son of Yaqoob Khan, former PPP MNA from Mardan. Yaqoob Khan joined ANP a year back.
Two of ANP lawmakers of the National Assembly also left the party in anticipation that they would not get the party ticket. Pir Dilawar Shah, a former member of National Assembly from NA-14 (Kohat), enjoyed power for five years and quit the ANP in February last. He joined the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and will contest from the same constituency representing PPP.
Istiqbal Khan, ANP Member of the National Assembly from NA-28 (Buner), also left the party in anticipation that he would not get party’s ticket. He is son of former MNA Abdul Mateen Khan and was elected after the demise of his father. Abdur Rauf Khan, former district nazim, would contest the election on ANP ticket from same constituency.
When contacted, ANP additional secretary general Tajuddin Khan claimed that Atifur Rahman and Ahmad Khan Bahadur would not contest the election as party leadership was in contact with them and they would support party’s candidates in their respective constituencies.
About the departure of Zarshaid Khan, Fazle Shakoor, Pir Dilawar and Istiqbal Khan, the ANP leader said they enjoyed the perks and privileges during the party’s five-year rule but left the party after they were not given the tickets.
“The parliamentary board decided about tickets after proper consultation with respective party organisations,” he stated.
Regarding Mian Nisar Gul, Qazi Asad and Amjad Afridi, Tajuddin said in the provincial cabinet, the party had to give representation to southern districts and Hazara division and that was the reason the said MPAs were inducted into the cabinet.