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September 12, 2019

Latif Afridi’s expulsion from ANP won’t end journey of his long political struggle

Peshawar

September 12, 2019

PESHAWAR: It was an incredible moment when the news was broken that senior lawyer-politician Abdul Latif Afridi had been expelled from the Awami National Party (ANP) on charges of indiscipline.

He had been issued a show-cause notice by the party’s young provincial President Aimal Wali Khan, who is the son of the ANP central President Asfandyar Wali Khan, in late August and given one week to reply. Latif Afridi failed to reply within the stipulated time, though he later claimed he wasn’t aware of the deadline.

In a desperate move, Latif Afridi appealed to the party’s head Asfandyar Wali Khan, but it wasn’t accepted. Rather, Asfandyar Wali argued that Latif Afridi should have first replied to the provincial president and then appealed to the central head.

The dismissal of his appeal must have come as a shock to Latif Afridi, who may have believed his long association with the ANP would be taken into consideration while deciding his fate.

Of late, the ANP leadership has been acting tough on questions of discipline. It hasn’t been averse to taking action even against senior party leaders. In November 2018, Afrasiab Khattak and Bushra Gohar, both former members of the parliament, were expelled from the party. They were accused of violating party discipline and causing confusion among the ANP rank and file, mostly due to their active use of social media. The party leadership wasn’t happy with their vocal support for the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), which has been trying to emerge as the new champion of Pashtun rights.

Latif Afridi wasn’t alone to be issued show-cause notice recently. Two other party stalwarts, Imran Afridi and Ayaz Wazir, too were served show-cause notices for failing to support ANP candidates in the July 20 election in the merged tribal districts for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly. Their fate hasn’t been decided yet as they had replied in time to the show-cause notices.

As Latif Afridi didn’t reply to the show-cause notice, the party leadership decided to act against him first. The punishment was tough as his basic membership was terminated. A case could be made that he should have been given more time to reply following his plea that he forgot the one-week time provided to him for replying to the show-cause notice. His appeal to the party’s central president also showed that he was keen to remain part of the ANP.

In Latif Afridi’s case, the show-cause notice said he campaigned for his son who contested as an independent candidate and addressed an election meeting at Khajori in Khyber district on July 18. The party obviously expected him to support the ANP candidate in the election for the provincial assembly. The ANP candidates fared poorly in Khyber in the election and its share of votes wasn’t impressive in other merged districts. It managed to win one of the 16 general seats in erstwhile Fata through its candidate, Nisar Ahmad Mohmand, in Mohmand district.

Latif Afridi has been a political activist since his college days. He has been an advocate of progressive and nationalist causes. It is true that he parted ways with the ANP in the past, but he invariably returned to the party after a period of separation. He was once elected as member of the National Assembly and remained provincial president of the party. As a lawyer, Latif Afridi has been prominent in bar politics, winning election for the Peshawar High Court Bar Association president and leading lawyers in endless campaigns for democracy, provincial autonomy and other worthy causes.

Being expelled from a party close to his heart in old age must have been a painful blow for Latif Afridi. The ANP has its own needs and has acted accordingly. For Latif Afridi, the journey of his long political struggle won’t end with his expulsion from the ANP.

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