ISLAMABAD - The politics in Pakistan is always been unpredictable as loyalties are changed with the passage of time; a visible shift in the hard stance of Awami National Party (ANP) towards Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) and their exclusion from opposition’s Rehbar Committee is a great example of it.

The ANP leadership has always been against the PTM and once in a TV interview Asfandyar Wali Khan, the chief of ANP, had termed PTM as an entity backed by the establishment.

Asfandyar had said that the two central members of PTM, Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar, had won elections not because of the votes but because of the establishment’s support.

And his son Aimal Wali Khan, the provincial president of ANP, too on several occasions in past had criticised the PTM.

Even though the party claims to be working for the rights of Pashtuns, the opposition of ANP towards PTM continued to split its supporters.

At the very beginning, the ANP had warned its supporters not to campaign for PTM and a kind of crackdown was launched against them in case of supporting the PTM.

Moreover, many core party members received show-cause notices over supporting the PTM. The prominent among them were Mohsin Dawar, Sanna Ejaz, Afrasiab Khattak and Bushra Gohar.

A storm erupted on social media when ANP’s Provincial Chief and son of the Party Chief Aimal Wali Khan had alleged that the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) was formed with the support of the Pakistan Army.

Talking to workers in the Bacha Khan Centre, he had said that the PTM was formed in order to divide the Pashtuns of the country and also alleged that this is now an establish fact that there are many other such organizations / movements that are operating to divide the Pashtuns.

He added that without their support, PTM would never have been able to have their members become part of the National or Provincial Assembly of Pakistan.

He further added that all those people who were once involved in propaganda against ANP are now supporting PTM.

But suddenly the scenario changed and the ANP, which considers itself as a sole representative of Pashtuns, changed its stance towards the PTM, as a clear shift was noticed in the party policy.

While addressing a gathering of party workers in KP, ANP Chief Asfandiyar Wali Khan had offered PTM leadership a grand meeting with the name of “Pakhtoon Qaami Jirga” to jointly resolve the issues of Pakhtun Belt. According to ANP, the demands of PTM were a part of the manifesto of ANP.

For the very first time, the ANP’s support for PTM was observed when Aimal met Manzoor Pashteen at the residence of Asfandyar in Charsadda.

Talking to media, Aimal and Manzoor said the only motive behind their support for each other was to protect the rights of Pashtuns. They said it was a kind of defining movement, which brought them together.

Meanwhile, commenting on the shift in stance of ANP towards PTM the PTM leader and Member of National Assembly Mohsin Dawar said that they welcomed all the offers and efforts made for the rights of Pashtuns.

While answering a question regarding Pakhtoon Qaami Jirga proposed by ANP on March 10, he said that it was PTM who firstly suggested a grand Jirga and as far as he knew ANP’s proposed Jirga was in their response.

While talking about any possibility of moving towards parliamentary politics Mohsin Dawar said that they were having many options and they had started their homework on making their own organization.

However, according to many political experts the shift in the hard stance of ANP towards the narrative of PTM was nothing but a tactic to secure their vote bank as PTM is likely to start parliamentary politics very soon. 

On the other hand ANP senior leader Zahid Khan while talking to The Nation said that they were fighting for the rights of Pashtuns and will set with every one talking about the rights of Pashtuns.

Meanwhile, ANP is also among the three parties which have been expelled from the JUI-F’s proposed Rehbar Committee on the allegation of backing the government side on many important issues.

The decision to remove the aforementioned three parties from the committee was taken at a meeting at the residence of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F (JUI-F) leader Akram Khan Durrani in Islamabad on Friday.

Now the six-member Rahbar Committee has announced a movement for protection of the constitution of Pakistan and mass meetings in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi on March 1, 19 and 23, respectively.

It has become clear that ANP on one side has parted ways with JUI-F led opposition alliance who are chanting full throat slogans for civil supremacy, but on the other side civil supremacy is also one of the main slogan of PTM too and ANP is now backing them after changing their hard stance towards PTM.

When The Nation contacted Zahid Khan, ANP’s senior leader on their exclusion from Rehbar Committee, he said that it was not a big issue making and breaking of alliances was a part of politics.