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ANP leader Afrasiab Khattak. — File photo

PESHAWAR: Security from the candidates and leaders of Awami National Party (ANP) was withdrawn under a conspiracy, said Afrasiab Khattak, the provincial president of the party here on Monday.

Expressing concern over attacks on ANP candidates in parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, he said that they would apprise European Union of the prevailing situation if security was not provided to their contenders.

Mr Khattak told an emergency press conference at Peshawar Press Club that ANP was the largest party of the province but conspiracy was being hatched to stop it from coming into power.

The terrorists, he aid, had come out to prevent ANP candidates from running their election campaign and pave the way for extremists to reach the parliament. If Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and caretaker government failed to take notice of the targeted attacks, extremists would capture the country and entire responsibility would rest with the relevant authorities, he added.

Flanked by former provincial ministers Mian Iftikhar Hussain and Syed Aqil Shah, ANP provincial general secretary Arbab Tahir and provincial spokesman Ghulam Mustafa, Mr Khattak said that there was no logic behind withdrawing security from ANP candidates and leaders.

He said that ECP was duty-bound to take notice of plots behind the attacks to provide level playing field to all political forces contesting the elections.

The ANP leader said that they would not flee the field owing to attacks and threats by handful terrorists. He said that opponents should compete in the elections instead of using unfair means.

“Our workers are ready to foil all conspiracies hatched to sideline the party and bring in fundamentalists political parties. Holding free and fair elections will not be possible, if the environment is not made conducive for the purpose,” Mr Khattak said.

He said that other political parties ignored the warnings issued by terrorists after announcement of elections schedule. Other parties should also rise against the menace because terrorists were enemies of humanity, he added.

The ANP leader said the caretaker government did little to ensure fairness and neutrality in the general elections. He said that ANP would call the elections partial if ECP didn’t work efficiently to provide security to candidates for ensuring free and fair polls.

Mr Khattack claimed that his party had roots in masses across the province and no force could affect its vote bank. He said that his party had the potential to foil all designs of extremists and undemocratic forces.

The ANP leader said that it was duty of government and ECP to protect lives of people and ensure free, fair and impartial elections in the country otherwise his party would have the option to apprise European Union and other international observers of the situation. He termed attacks on their candidates and leaders pre-poll rigging.

Mr Khattak asked the ECP to take notice of the appointment of controversial officials on key posts, particularly replacement of Peshawar police chief Liaquat Ali Khan. He said that a cousin of the police officer was contesting election from Charsadda and he could affect the results.

The ANP leader asked implementation of the code of conduct in its real sense in the province. He said that situation would worsen in the entire country if government and ECP did not take immediate steps to control it.