ANP: fall from grace -by Rashid Orakzai

The ANP has remained taciturn viz a viz Rawalpindi’s expansionist policy beyond Torkham. It had no say in the USIP-JI report on the ‘Endgame in Afghanistan’. It maintained an eerie silence on the new FATA and FANA regulations allowing military to use FATA and KP as ‘exercise areas’ for its strategic games

‘I am a leftist because my father was one and he was an ANP activist. Bacha Khan is our great leader. Wali Khan was his son and successor. Both were great leaders, visionaries and men of principles. Their ideology was great, though I don’t know what it really was about. But it must be an unruffled philosophy since others say so. I, therefore, am dedicated to the ANP indeed.’

The same holds true for PPP-jiyalas—diehards—when suffix Khan is replaced by Bhutto.

Like third graders, our mainstream leftists have reduced themselves to sheer rhetoric. Like the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), its mimesis in Khyber Pakhtoonkwha (KP), the Awami National Party, or ANP, has become a family fiefdom. The leadership is marred by personality-cult while ideology has been consigned to the back stage. Heir to a larger-than-life, non violent anti-colonial Khudai Khidmatgar Movement as well as an anti-establishment, trans-ethnic and neo-Marxist Awami National Party (NAP), the ANP has metamorphosed into an ethnic and regional entity.

It may for the first time, complete its term in office since the military is not in the mood to buy the blame. But its governing of the province has not brought any relief for the people it represents. In KP, Charsada, Mardan and Swabi are considered the ANP-strongholds even if the party enjoys a level of support in rest of the province. However, with the exception of Mardan, the bastions of ANP-power—Charsada and Swabi— are way backward in terms of infrastructure and services let alone the other districts of the province. No doubt, Islamabad is to blame for many ills plaguing the province ruled by the ANP. However, the ANP has not endeavoured in any tangible manner either for the uplift of even Swabi and Charsada.

When criticized for its lack of developmental initiatives, the ANP begins to flaunts its ideological credentials. It takes pride in the fact that it engages in issue-based politics instead of concentrating on populist slogans centered on building of roads and water pumps. It claims to have stood for the oppressed. It takes pride in Red Shirts’ struggle against the British colonial rule, and later the post-colonial oppressive elite. Though Red Shirts opposed Jinnah and his Pakistan yet they accepted the reality and sided with Fatimah Jinnah against Gen. Ayub. The ANP claims to be the bane of establishment dominated by mullahs and military even if it has meant erosion of its vote bank. According to the ANP protagonists, the Afghan ‘Jihad’ and Pakhtoon immigration to the Middle East as well as Zia’s Islamisation has contributed to diminish the ANP appeal yet it has not given up the its enlightened legacy.

Ironically, a majority of Pakhtoons, which the party represents now, are still unaware of the party ideas. It remains a moot point if the ANP should be criticized or eulogized that many in KP consider it a continuation of the Gandhi’s Congress.

Come 2008 and the ANP even betrays its cherished legacy. Taking a U-turn, from an anti-establishment party, it became a pro-establishment organisation. Notwithstanding the fact that scores of ANP worker and leaders have been targeted by Taliban, the ANP has been singing from the psalm ISI has wanted it to sing from.

The party has it seems intentionally lost its vision for the region. At least, it has remained taciturn viz a viz Rawalpindi’s expansionist policy beyond Torkham. It had no say in the USIP-JI report on the ‘Endgame in Afghanistan’. It maintained an eerie silence on the new FATA and FANA regulations allowing military to use FATA and KP as ‘exercise areas’ for its strategic games. It remained silent on all these three issues even when bitterly criticized by Pakhtoon intellectuals, liberals and AfPak observers. On the contrary, it had the nerve to pass a resolution in the KP Assembly, to please the Khakis, condemning the drone attacks.

Like the PPP, the ANP has compromised on principles to reach and stay in power. Both the ANP and PPP will regret to miss the opportunity when military could be contained after infamous debacle in Abbottabad on May 2. This missed opportunity will haunt both these parties till the doomsday. Military cannot be appeased. It has to be contained.

That is not the only failure. The ANP leadership badly lacks the vision to boost provincial economy, do away with power and food shortages, create jobs, build an infrastructure and improve governance. It is these measures, providing relief and hope to the people that would strengthen the fragile democracy. But the ANP leadership is content with the perks and privileges the public offices fetch. The lust for power has undermined the party popularity as well as democracy.

It is also important to highlight that the party-elections hardly take place. When a party-election is conducted, it hardly challenges the dynastic hold over the party. When Begum Nasim Wali and her team were replaced by Asfandyar and die hard workers like Ajmal Khattak, Mian Iftikhar, Afrasiab Khattak, Latif Afridi and Afzal Khan Lala, it kindled hopes among the party workers. Alas! all the hopes dashed to ground. Asfandyar’s nephew, Hoti Junior, was consequently the ANP choice when it came to appointing a chief minister. Hoti Jr. hardly ventures outside of CM Office and CM House in Peshawar. The southern and northern districts are still awaiting his visit.

Betting on victors and losers in forthcoming elections is worthless at this point of time. The question is: if parties like the PPP and ANP capable of delivering what is desired? The answer is a plain ‘No’. There are no reasons to entertain any optimism. However, what other alternative we have in the absence of any radical, secular, socialist and democratic movement? I am left with the ANPs and PPPs to offset the GHQ Leagues and mullahs. Meantime, one may continue nursing the hope that democracy will provide an opportunity to groom a true socialist, democratic and secular project as an alternative to the PPPs and ANPs.

Source: View Point Online



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