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PESHAWAR: Awami National Party general secretary Mian Iftikhar Hussain has said that workers of all the political parties deserve to get foolproof security and level playing field for campaign but the caretaker government and Election Commission of Pakistan have failed to provide security to all the poll candidates.

He was addressing a news conference at Peshawar Press Club on Thursday. Several political activists led by Riaz Badshah of Bala Manrhi announced to join ANP on the occasion. Former minister and ANP candidate for PK-75 Syed Aqil Shah, ANP district president Malik Mustafa and Arbab Tahir also attended the press conference.

Referring to the killing of ANP candidate for PK-78 Haroon Bilour, Mr Hussain said that his party had done nothing wrong to get targeted. He said that ANP was hit hard by terrorism but it always exercised patience and believed in democracy. He added that many acts of terrorism took play during the election campaign recently to force the political parties to boycott the polls.

“Our party is determined to take part in the elections at all costs,” said the ANP leader. He said that Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law were also behind bars but PML-N was taking part in the elections and same was the position of JUI-F that was in the field despite attack on its central leader Akram Khan Durrani in Bannu.

He also expressed shock over the bloodshed in Balochistan and urged government and ECP to ensure provision of security to candidates.

Mr Hussain said that everyone knew that a particular political party was running the election campaign freely as its top leader was dreaming to become prime minister but rest of the parties faced problems in seeking votes. He said that PTI leaders were using derogatory language against the rival parties that harmed their culture and civilisation.

Regarding investigation into the suicide attack on Haroon Bilour, Mr Hussain said that the officials concerned were yet to share information with the ANP leadership. He said that the process of investigation should be expedited and government should take effective steps to uproot terrorists.

The ANP leader said that ECP should also take notice of the ongoing development schemes as it was a violation of its code of conduct.

Published in Dawn, July 20th, 2018