“Entry of these groups in mainstream political process is a positive step. But they should publicly disassociate themselves from their past activities and apologise for it,” replied Asfandyar Wali when asked about the participation of the Milli Muslim League (MML) and other similar groups in the NA-120 Lahore by-polls.
“If they (jehadi and extremist outfits) are joining the mainstream politics without giving up their previous activities, then it will be dangerous for the society,” he told a news conference here at the Bacha Khan Markaz after chairing a meeting of the party’s central council.
The MML, the newly-formed political wing of the banned Jamaatud Dawa, is contesting the by-elections in NA-4 Peshawar next month.
Asfandyar warns tug of war among institutions to undermine system
The ANP leader did not comment on the statement of Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa in which he talked about increase in defence budget which was currently nearly 18 percent.
“I just read his statement in newspapers. I will comment on it once his statement is discussed at the party’s platforms,” he said.
About the prevailing situation in the country, Mr Asfandyar said a tug of war among institutions would undermine the system.
He said the system could not afford misadventure and that rumours were being spread about postponing general elections and formation of a national government.
The ANP leader said an independent and strong parliament could resolve all problems and should allow parliament to play its role.
He said dictatorship was the root cause of the mess and that only a strong parliament could prevent martial law in the country.
He said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz was on the path of confrontation with institutions and such behaviour was harmful for the ruling party.
Expressing reservations about the population census report, Mr Asfandyar said the census statistics about the Federally Administered Tribal Areas were inaccurate.
He said population in other areas of the country had increased but ironically, it decreased in Fata, particularly North Waziristan.
“The ANP rejects the census report,” he said, demanding fresh census in Fata. He said Fata would get its share under the National Finance Commission award on the basis of population.
The ANP leader criticised the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party for opposing the merger of Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
“I do not understand why these two parties oppose the merger of Pakhtuns living in Fata and KP,” he said.
Mr Asfandyar said a party, which made a struggle for the integration of Pakhtuns from Chitral to Bolan (Balochistan), was opposing the merger of Fata.
He said the ANP would continue struggle for the Fata-KP merger and once that was successful, a campaign would be launched for the integration of Pakhtuns in KP and Balochistan.
The ANP leader urged Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to fulfil the federal government’s commitments about the merger of Fata with KP. He said the Durand Line was irrelevant in the context of Fata-KP merger.
“We will eliminate the line that divided Pakhtuns of Fata and KP,” he said, adding that the delay in Fata reforms would generate mistrust.
Mr Asfandyar called for friendly ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan and said peaceful Afghanistan was in the interest of Pakistan.
He regretted that Pakistan did not respond to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s offer for broader and meaningful bilateral dialogue.
The ANP chief came down heavily on the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf for its policies in KP saying they had resulted in bad governance. He said PTI chief Imran Khan had admitted that his party could not deliver due to a lack of experience.
Mr Asfandyar said after health sector, education sector, too, was on the verge of ruin in the province. -DN