CHARSADDA: Awami National Party chief Asfandyar Wali Khan warned on Friday that any move to revoke the 18th constitution amendment might lead to the country’s disintegration.

“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should keep in mind that Pakistan will not survive if the 18th amendment is revoked,” he said while addressing a function held in connection with the Babrra incident of 1948 in Charsadda. A large number of ANP workers attended the anniversary.

The Babrra massacre occurred on August 12, 1948, in Charsadda district when workers of the pre-partition Khudai Khid–matgar movement were fired upon by the provincial government on the orders of then chief minister Abdul Qayyum Khan. The protest was against the promulgation of Public Safety Ordinance by the provincial governor and the resulting arrests of Khudai Khidmatgar leaders and confiscation of properties of the Pakhtun tribe. Claims regarding deaths in the massacre range from 1,000 to more than 1,300 people while many protestors were injured.

The ANP observes August 12 as a black day in memory of the killing of those workers every year.

The country, Mr Khan said, was at the crossroads and it’s time “we strengthened the federation rather than revoke the 18th amendment”. Political parties had unanimously passed the constitutional package that guaranteed maximum autonomy to the federating units, he said.

Commenting on the current situation, the ANP president said that the National Action Plan (NAP) had two parts: one related to the military operation Zarb-i-Azb and the other was the responsibility of the civilian government.

“The military operation was successful while the government failed to achieve its goals like elimination of targeted killing and acts of terrorism,” he said, adding that the interior minister had failed and not a single suspect had been arrested so far.

Mr Khan said that his party had never supported military dictators and military courts in the larger interests of the country.

He said that his party would oppose forcible return of Afghan refugees and condemned the harassment of Afghans at the hands of police. He asked the government to review its foreign policy, particularly the Afghan policy. He said that cordial relations with Afghanistan were in the interest of Pakistan.

“Afghans were garlanded when our establishment needed them and after achieving the objectives they were expelled,” he maintained.

Mr Khan said that the ANP would start agitation if Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif did not fulfil his commitments regarding the China-Pakistan Eco­nomic Corridor. He said that he never opposed the project and urged the prime minister to fulfil his promise.

The ANP, he said, was on the side of the opposition on the issue of the terms of reference on Panama leaks, but demanded across-the-board action against those who had offshore companies.

Published in Dawn, August 13th, 2016

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