PESHAWAR, Dec 25: Awami National Party president Asfandyar Wali Khan on Tuesday said military action against sanctuaries of militants in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas without political ownership could not produce desired results.
“Military operation against militants in Malakand division remained successful because ANP took its ownership. Political ownership is prerequisite for successful army action against sanctuaries in tribal areas,” he told reporters here at the Chief Minister’s House.
Earlier, Mr Asfandyar attended a meeting of the ANP consultative body, which discussed situation that had emerged after the assassination of senior party leader and provincial minister Bashir Ahmad Bilour last Saturday.
Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti, Senators Afrasiab Khattak, Haji Adeel and Zahid Khan, and senior leaders of the party attended the meeting, which appealed to all political parties and civil society groups to take a clear stand against extremism and terrorism.
“ANP supports negotiations with all those elements that recognise the writ of the state and renounce violence. Those who are not prepared to do it should face effective and meaningful actions,” said Asfandyar reading out a declaration of the body, which authorised him to contact coalition partners, political parties and all state institutions to share the ANP concern with them and prepare decisive line of action against terrorism.
He said negotiations with militants were still the top priority of ANP, while military action should be used as the last resort.
The ANP president, however, said if other options failed, then military operation should be conducted.
He said militants in Fata had no central command and divided in many groups and therefore, it would be very difficult to hold talks with every group.
Mr Asfandyar declared extremism and militancy threats to the very existence of the country and said the people, who were treated as traitors in the past, were sacrificing lives for the survival of the country.
“The mindset, which is currently attacking the ANP workers, will target others in future. Let me clear one thing that this is not sole responsibility of our party to save the system. All political forces should sit together and formulate the joint line of action against terrorism,” he said.
The ANP president said like others, his party also condemned the US drone strikes in Fata because these attacks were beyond the mandate of Nato and International Security Assistance Force, but some parties did not condemn foreign militants violating the country’s territory.
“We should criticise both acts because the innocent people are being killed,” he said, adding that thousands of foreigners had made sanctuaries on this side of the border.
He said all parties should express zero tolerance towards all violations of the country’s sovereignty and integrity.
Mr Asfandyar denied that ANP would keep itself away from the imminent general elections due to terrorist attacks against its leaders and workers.
“I categorically say such attacks can’t deter our party from elections,” he said.
The ANP president said the consultative body had decided to appoint Haroon Bilour, elder son of Bashir Bilour, adviser to the chief minister immediately in recognition of his father’s services and sacrifices for the party.
He said a summary regarding his appointment would be sent to the governor on Wednesday and that he would look after the affairs of the local government department, which fell vacant after the killing of his father in a suicide bombing.
When asked about PPP-ANP differences in the province, Mr Asfandyar said he would discuss some issues with former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, who was to become PPP co-chairman soon.
He said there were some issues between the two coalition partners and they would come under discussion during his meeting with Mr Gilani.