PESHAWAR, May 23: “Pakhtuns act first and think about it later, which might be the reason they voted for those promising change, while in Sindh and Punjab, the people voted on ethnic grounds,” remarked former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister and Awami National Party leader Ameer Haider Khan Hoti about the psyche of the Pakhtuns on Thursday.
Soft-spoken Hoti wholeheartedly admitted Awami National Party’s defeat in the May 11 general elections at a function that was organised for the ANP candidates here Thursday.
But, between the lines, he mentioned ‘other factors’ as well, which led to the defeat of ANP in the May 11 elections.
“For us, this will be very difficult to decide whether elections were rigged through ballot or administrative steps, but nobody can deny pre-poll rigging that was the targeting of ANP candidates and workers,” he said.
“Despite all odds, Sindhis voted for their own people. Muhajirs (Urdu-speaking people) voted for their own people in Karachi and Hyderabad, and Punjabis elected Punjabis as usual. Only Pakhtuns voted for someone else in the name of change,” he said.Mr Hoti did not deny shortcomings in his party but complained that ANP was not provided a level playing field in elections like other political parties.
ANP, a coalition partner of Pakistan People’s Party, which ruled Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the centre for the last five years, has won only four seats of the provincial assembly and one of the National Assembly.
“Certainly, we have lost elections but never left the political battlefield,” he asserted to motivate the party workers, who had come from all over the province to share their experiences and shortcomings, which might have been the reason of ANP defeat in the recent elections.
The ANP leader said his party accepted the verdict of voters, who gave a clear mandate to Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf to rule Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for the next five years.
He said Pakistan could not survive without democracy and the next parliament as well as all provincial assemblies should complete their five years term. He added that the people of the province voted in the name of change, the election slogan of PTI.Mr Hoti said ANP leaders and workers should not be disappointed and watch situation with patience.
“Let see the change and wait what is happening,” he said, adding that ANP should reorganise itself, remove weaknesses and make plan for the future.
He paid tribute to the party workers and leaders, who despite threats and attacks carried out election camping and laid down their lives.
Former provincial minister Syed Aqil Shah said the people of the province voted for PTI and that was a fact though ANP candidates and workers were terrorised through bomb blasts and suicide attacks to abandon campaign.
“Frankly, I was not sure even about my family members, especially youngsters and women, whether they would vote for me or PTI candidate,” he said.
He admitted that infighting was one of the reasons for ANP defeat in elections.
Mr Shah suggested that party expose corrupt people, who brought bad name to the party.
ANP provincial chief Senator Afrasiab Khattak, who was also in attendance, said the state had failed by not providing a level playing flied to ANP and other parties in elections.
He said Punjab was protected, while other federating units and tribal areas were left to defend themselves.
Mr Khattak said the new government would be even weaker than the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal government and the ‘bubble’ would soon burst.
He said ANP might not fit in the regional politics that might be one of the reasons for its ‘defeat’.
The ANP leader said PTI, which had emerged as the single largest party in the assembly, was so far failed to hold its parliamentary party meeting in Peshawar and all affairs were controlled and monitored from Lahore.
He asked the ANP office-bearers to discuss internal issues on the party platform.