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ANP to back ‘meaningful’ peace efforts

May 28, 2013

PESHAWAR, May 27: Awami National Party on Monday said it would fully support the ‘meaningful efforts’ by the upcoming Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led coalition government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with the Taliban for restoration of peace.

“If the government persuades militants to accept its writ, we will fully support talks between them for peace. However, we will not back anything like the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal government did by closing its eyes to the militants’ adventurism in Swat after an agreement,” spokesman for ANP Mian Iftikhar Hussain told Dawn.

Mr Hussain said ANP wanted the next PTI government to accomplish its mission to end violence.

“We have done almost half of the work to end militancy. Now, the next government should do the rest. We will appreciate all such efforts if they are decisive,” he said.

The ANP spokesman, the former information minister, said giving freehand to militants would be catastrophic but serious dialogue with them could earn peace for the violence-hit province.

He said his party would actively take part in by-elections.

“In the wake of our defeat in the May 11 elections, we aren’t in strong position to make seat-to-seat adjustments with the ruling or opposition parties on provincial and national assemblies,” he said.

Mr Hussain said ANP was far behind as for the number of votes secured on May 11.

“For instance, in Nowshera National Assembly constituency to be vacated PTI chief minister nominee Perez Khan Khattak, we received 50,000 less votes that those by him. Similarly, in Swabi National Assembly constituency to be vacated by Asad Qaisar, nominee for the provincial assembly speaker’s slot, our candidate weren’t able to get sizeable votes, so we can’t make desired electoral alliance. However, we will not leave the field open and will contest for every vacant seat in the province,” he said.

ANP has already formed a committee led by former chief minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti to look into the possibilities of constituencies-based electoral alliances with political parties.

The ANP spokesman said it was premature to comment on the performance of the government but it was a reality that the PTI-led future government would face numerous challenges like stoppage of Nato supplies to Afghanistan via Peshawar, militancy and opposition to the US drone strike in tribal areas.

“We have to wait and see. If the next government delivers, everyone will appreciate PTI and its allies. They all have to act, now. There’s a lot of difference in shouting slogans and acting upon them,” he said.

Mr Hussain said the ANP role in fight against militancy had been exemplary.

“It was our leadership that resisted militants at the cost of their lives. We lost around 800 leaders and workers to militancy but never allowed militants to play with the lives of the people. Despite assassination of ANP leaders and workers and massive rigging in elections, we concede defeat to let democracy progress uninterrupted,” he said.