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ANP leader Ghulam Bilour.. — Photo by AFP/File

PESHAWAR: Awami National Party on Thursday expressed dissatisfaction with security arrangements and complained that lack of security cover was keeping election candidates from canvassing.

It asked the caretaker provincial government to provide proper protection to the people, especially candidates in the running for national and provincial assembly seats.

During a news conference here at Peshawar Press Club, ANP central leader and candidate for NA-1, Peshawar-I Haji Ghulam Ahmad Bilour said the government had withdrawn security personnel from his party leaders and former ministers facing militant threats and thus, putting their lives at stake.

He said ANP remained at the forefront of the anti-terrorism war over the last five years and saw around 650 activists, including elected representatives and a provincial senior minister, lose life to terrorism. He added that the party activists continued to be under threat.

Mr Bilour said his party had rendered great sacrifices for the region and would continue doing so until peace was restored.

He, however, said at the same time, it was the duty of the government to provide security to the people.

“We’ve never given to terrorists and faced every challenge during our government with courage, and will continue doing so,” he said.

Mr Bilour expressed concern about massive coverage of different political parties on electronic media and asked the Election Commission of Pakistan to step in and disqualify all those defying its code of conduct for elections.

He said political parties were using massive funds in media as part of their election campaign and ECP should strictly enforce its code of conduct for elections.

“ECP should take notice of undue coverage of Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf and Muttahida Qaumi Movement in media compared to other parties. PTI has paid Rs150 million to a private TV channel to telecast a talk show favouring its central leader. It’s tantamount to pre-poll rigging,” he alleged.

Mr Bilour said the slogan of creating a new Pakistan was a mere joke, as those making such a claim won’t be able to execute it.

He said the people could no longer be deceived in the name of Islam and that ECP should take notice of all those using the Holy Quran and mosque to solicit votes.

The ANP leader said his party’s government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had to its credit the renaming of the province, approval of 18th Amendment to the Constitution, opening of new educational institutions and launch of Bacha Khan Khpal Rozgar Scheme.

He said ECP should take further steps for holding free, fair and transparent elections, the only solution to the country’s all domestic and foreign problems.

Mr Bilour claimed that his party was very popular with the people and would form the next provincial government, too, on the basis of its performance.

He said after coming to power, ANP would resolve energy crisis, lawlessness and unemployment in the province and provide electricity to people at competitive rates.

ANP leaders and candidates, including Haroon Bilour, Ghazanfar Bilour, Arbab Najeebullah and Ghulam Mustafa, were also present on the occasion.