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PESHAWAR: The Awami National Party has suspended the basic membership of its two stalwarts, including Afrasiab Khattak and Bushra Gohar, for violating its discipline.

It however opted not to specify charges against them.

Protesting the move, central joint secretary of the ANP and former MNA Jamila Gilani resigned from her position.

“I resigned only from my position. Let see what happens next,” she told Dawn.

In written replies to the show cause notices served on them, Mr Afrasiab and Ms Bushra rejected all charges and allegations and demanded the convening of the party’s executive council to discuss the matter.

Mr Afrasiab said meetings of the party’s relevant forums should be convened to discuss the allegations leveled against him and other party leaders thoroughly.

Two leaders face charges of being involved in anti-party activities, dividing workers

“I understand that the party is under pressure from undemocratic forces, while the non-state actor card is also used. The party should call a meeting of relevant forums to find out solutions to the problems,” he said.

In a statement issued by the Bacha Khan Markaz here on Monday, the ANP said its central president, Asfandyar Wali Khan, had suspended the party membership of senior leader Afrasiab Khattak and central vice-president Bushra Gohar.

It added that the two were suspended for involvement in the ‘anti-party activities’, creating divisions among workers, and damaging its interests.

The ANP said Afrasiab and Bushra were warned repeatedly.

It however didn’t elaborate on the charges against the two leaders.

ANP general secretary Mian Iftikhar Hussain issued the notification of the suspension of the basic party membership of Afrasiab and Bushra.

Currently, ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan is in Moscow.

The ANP had issued show cause notices to the two leaders a week ago accusing them of involvement in social media activities, which, it said, were against its policy and discipline.

Mr Afrasiab and Ms Gohar didn’t say much to the media thereafter and asked the party to explain the alleged ‘anti-party activities’ they were allegedly involved in.

In the suspension notification, the ANP also said both members had provided separate written replies to the show-cause notice seeking details of the ‘very points, which were often discussed and raised at various party platforms and within party consultative meetings’.

It added that the two were warned against violating the party’s discipline at such meetings but despite that, they engaged in activities on social media creating doubts in the minds of party workers and created divisions among them.

The ANP president suspended the basic party membership of Mr Afrasiab and Ms Bushra exercising powers granted under Article 2 of the party’s constitution.

“The president can suspend a member or office-bearer of the party as a disciplinary measure which shall be ratified by the central executive committee in its first meeting,” read the Article 2 of the ANP’s constitution.

It is not clear if it is against the party’s policy, both senior ANP leaders, vocal advocates for the rights of Pashtuns, actively support the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement on social media by re-tweeting and liking its tweets. The ANP has tried to distance itself from this civil rights movement.

In written reply to the show cause notice, Ms Bushra insisted that she had followed Bacha Khan’s philosophy and party’s constitution, manifesto and policies to the best of her understanding and abilities.

“You (Asfandyar) could identify the issues listed below which the party might consider to have inadvertently caused harm to its overall interests and policies,” she said.

Ms Bushra, who had served as MNA from 2008 to 2013, said as party member, she had focused her attention on the issues, including democracy and human rights, people’s equal rights to education, health, and livelihoods, Fata-KP merger, demilitarisation of the state and society, campaign against Talibanisation, religious extremism and regional peace, freedom of movement, and development.

She said in the absence of a charge sheet or relevant details of the alleged activities, she was genuinely at a loss to give a satisfactory response to the show cause notice.

“In my opinion, it would be counterproductive to respond to the notice basis of mere speculations and assumptions,” she said suggesting discussion on the matter at the relevant forums of the party.

Published in Dawn, November 13th, 2018

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