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National

May 3, 2015

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NAP was banned twice by Yahya and Bhutto

LAHORE: Rare precedents do exist in Pakistan where the National Awami Party (NAP), a political party of its time, was barred twice from taking part in active politics after it was accused by the incumbent rulers of being involved in anti-state activities, annals of history show.
Although first Chief Martial Law Administrator and second Pakistani President Ayub Khan (1907-74) had banned all political parties after coming into power for four years till 1962, only the National Awami Party was de-notified twice on November 26, 1971, and February 10, 1975, by the third President Agha Yahya Khan (1917-1980) and then by the country’s ninth Premier and fourth head of state Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (1928-1979) respectively.
NAP had then resurrected under the name of National Democratic Party, which had finally surfaced on the political arena as the Awami National Party (ANP) in 1986, but not before it had received a lot of battering from powerful Pakistani rulers—both military and civilian.
Founded in 1957 in Dhaka by Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani (1880-1976), who is known to have supported Ayub Khan in the controversial 1965 Presidential election against Fatima Jinnah, the pro-Chinese National Awami Party was split into two factions in 1967.
Maulana Bhashani was supported by renowned politicians like Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo (1917-1989), G.M Syed (1904-1995), Maulana Mufti Mahmood (1919-1980) and Abdul Samad Khan Achakzai (1907-1973) etc.
However, Sindhi nationalist GM Syed only remained associated with NAP for five initial years till 1962.
In East Pakistan, this political entity was headed by Maulana Bhashani while in West Pakistan, the pro-Soviet Abdul Ghaffar Khan’s son Wali Khan (1917-2006) had gone on to lead it.
NAP contested the 1970 election, winning the second largest number of seats in the then North-West Frontier Province (Now Khyber Pakhtukhwa), the largest number in Balochistan and just a handful of seats in East Pakistan’s provincial

assembly. It did not field any candidates in the Punjab, and had failed to win any support in Sindh too.
Wali Khan was the first politician from West Pakistan who visited East Pakistan to show sympathy with the flood and famine affected masses of East Pakistan. He had stayed there for 12 days and was also the first politician from West Pakistan to have given party tickets to 49 candidates of NAP. He also visited East Pakistan during the election campaign. He had managed to emerge triumphant from his home district of Charsadda, bagging both National and provincial assembly seats.
In 1971, in a bid to form a United Front against Awami League of East Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had visited Charsadda to meet Wali Khan for cooperation, but the NAP chief had refused to do so.
Wali Khan, as newspaper archives of the time reveal, had viewed that Mujeebur Rehamn of Awami league was the future Prime Minister of the country.
Bhutto had reacted by threatening that if Wali Khan didn’t support him against Awami League, he would boycott the scheduled assembly session. Wali Khan had politely informed the country’s chief executive of the dangerous consequences a step such as that might have.
(References: The Emergence of the Federal Pattern in Pakistan Malik Journal of Asian and African Studies, Hamid Khan’s book “Constitutional and Political History of Pakistan” and Sherbaz Khan Mazari’s book “Journey into disillusionment”)
On March 23, 1971, Wali Khan and other Pakistani politicians had called on Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. According to NAP, these leaders had offered support to Mujeeb in the formation of a government, but Yahya Khan had decided to hit the nail hard on the Awami League’s Chief Mujeeb by banning it.
Wali Khan, in his book “Facts are sacred” writes that NAP had opposed the military operation in East Pakistan and had stressed for a political solution to the issue. Therefore, on November 26, 1971, Yahya Khan had banned NAP. However, after coming into power on December 21, 1971, Bhutto had removed this ban in his first address to the nation. Abdul Wali Khan had welcomed Bhutto’s address and had offered unconditional support of his party. This PPP-ANP friendship had proved to be very short-lived as immediately after consolidating his position, Bhutto had allegedly by-passed NAP while appointing the governors of NWFP and Balochistan. Arbab Sikandar Khan was appointed Governor of the NWFP and Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo was asked to sit on Governor of Balochistan’s seat.
It is imperative to recall that after the division of Pakistan in 1971, NAP had formed coalition governments in the NWFP and Balochistan.
While Sardar Akhtar Mengal was elected the first Chief Minister of Balochistan, NAP had supported Maulana Mufti Mahmud of the JUI as chief minister of the NWFP.
Within a couple of years following the 1971 war, the Pakistani faction of NAP had surely became a thorn in the flesh for the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto-led government of the Pakistan People’s Party. On March 23, 1973, the Federal Security Force of Bhutto had attacked a public opposition rally at Rawalpindi’s Liaquat Bagh and had allegedly killed a dozen people. Many NAP leaders, including Ajmal Khattak, had to flee to Kabul.
Bhutto had dissolved the coalition government of the NAP and JUI in Balochistan in February 1973.
Wali Khan was accused as an enemy of Islam, besides being dubbed an anti-state element and a traitor.
Unveiling the “London Conspiracy,” late Nawab Akbar Bugti had then come out alleging that NAP-led governments in Balochistan and NWFP were striving to gain independence from Pakistan. Top NAP leaders like Ataullah Mengal, Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo and Khair Bakhsh Marri were hence arrested.
Wali khan was consequently arrested on February 8, 1975, while he was on way to Peshawar from Lahore to attend the funeral of a federal minister and President of the PPP in NWFP, Hayat Sherpao, (killed on February 7, 1975 while addressing an oath taking ceremony in the History Department of the University of Peshawar).
The NAP was disbanded by Bhutto on February 10, 1975, and the party offices were closed down. The NAP funds were frozen, its important record was either seized or allegedly destroyed completely in vengeance. A reference in this context was hence sent to the Supreme Court of Pakistan in June 1975. NAP was accused to be an anti-state party that was busy in destroying Pakistan on the instigation of the Afghan government.
Invoking the First Amendment of the 1973 Constitution, the Bhuttio government had charged Wali Khan and his 58 colleagues under the Hyderabad Conspiracy Case in 1976, although they were acquitted of the charge of the murder of Hayat Sherpao.
The Bhutto government had then established a special tribunal inside the Hyderabad Jail to hold trials of high treason cases against Wali Khan and dozens of his like-minded colleagues. The first formal hearing of the case was held on May 10, 1976, and the sitting government had presented 455 witnesses in this case.
As historians write, the main aim behind this was to get Wali Khan and his party officially banned through the apex court.
Wali khan had appealed to the court against the time being bought by the rulers because only 22 witnesses were brought to the court in 18 months.
Wali Khan’s wife Begum Nasim Wali Khan had then held the NAP reins and had laid the foundation of the National Democratic Party. Sardar Sher Baz Mazari, a renown politician from Sindh, was appointed its first president and Begum Nasim Wali was chosen as its vice president.
Talking about NAP East Pakistan, the party wasn’t very popular in Bangladesh as many of its key stalwarts had become members of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party after the death of Maulana Bhashani in 1976.
The Hyderabad Conspiracy Case was withdrawn after General Ziaul Haq had imposed Martial Law in July 1977. After assuming power, General Zia had himself gone to the Hyderabad Jail to meet Wali khan and all the cases against Wali Khan and his comrades were withdrawn by the state.
In 1978, Wali Khan had criticised the military regime after the election was deferred twice. It was in 1978 that General Zia had offered a ministry to Wali Khan through a former Governor of NWFP, General Fazal-e-Haq. Wali Khan had refused the olive branch instantly. Though Wali Khan had left party affairs to Sher Baz Mazari, after his release from jail in December 1977, he was brought to Peshawar in a special plane.
Mazari and Wali Khan had soon parted ways and years later, a new political party named Awami National Party (ANP) was floated with Wali Khan as its president and Rasul Bux Palejo as its general-secretary.
In February 1981, a political alliance called the “Movement for the Restoration of Democracy,” or the MRD, was formed against the Zia government. Wali Khan was appointed as its first convener.
In 1985, the National Democratic Party, under the leadership of Wali Khan, had decided not to contest the party-less 1985 elections.
On December 26, 1985, Wali Khan and his father Abdul Ghaffar Khan had travelled to India to attend the centenary celebrations of the All India National Congress.
And in 1986, the Awami National Party was found in Karachi with the merger of the National Democratic Party, the Pakistan National Party, the Mazdoor Kisan Party (Afzal Bangash group) and the Awami National Party. Wali Khan was elected as its first president.
In 1988, Wali Khan’s ANP had formed a coalition government with Aftab Sherpao of the PPP but had soon separated, surprisingly, to support the Muslim League.

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