PESHAWAR - Awami National Party Khyber Pakhtunkhwa President Senator Afrasiab Khattak has alleged that extremists are hatching conspiracies to create fear in the minds of masses aimed to bring fundamentalists in power.

“These extremists fear the nationalist part will once again come to power through masses support,” he said, urging the Election Commission to take notice of the conspirators by providing a conducive environment to political forces for taking part in the elections.

He said the ANP would not deter to extremists’ threats and would foil all such conspiracies being hatched to sideline the party and bring fundamentalists in power.

He stated this while addressing a press conference here at press club on Monday.

He said that holding of free and fair elections was not possible until the caretaker government and Election Commission did not provide an environment where people could freely and fearlessly exercise their right to vote.

Flanked by ANP Provincial General Secretary Arbab Tahir, former KP ministers Mian Iftikhar Hussain, Aqil Shah, and Tajud Din Khan, he expressed reservations over the decision of the EC to remove security from the ANP leadership. He said they were already under threats due to their role against terrorists and extremists but the ECP ignored all these warnings given by militant groups after the announcement of elections schedule.

Khattak also said that the interim government had done nothing to keep fairness and neutrality in the general elections. “If the ECP do not efficiently work in context of security and ensure holding of free and fair election process, then ANP will have objections over its impartial role in polls,” he maintained.

He urged the political parties leadership not to remain silent over the issue and take firm stance against the plotters and extremists forces that might also create security challenges to other political groups as well.

“We will not deter to the Taliban’s threats and would fully participate in the general elections,” Afrasiab vowed.

“The ANP has roots in masses across the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and no force will weaken its ever strong position in the region. We will foil all the bad intentions of extremists and undemocratic forces to underestimate the ANP and to impose fundamentalists on the masses,” he warned.

He said that they had decided to meet the European Union observers to inform them about the pre-poll rigging and other ground realities regarding the elections.

He urged the Election Commission of Pakistan to take steps against the appointment of controversial officials, particularly Capital Chief Police Officer (CCPO) as his brother was also taking part in elections and implement the ‘code of conduct’ across province.

Senator Khattak warned if the federal government is inefficient to hold free, fair and transparent elections, then the situation might further be worsen across the country.

The ANP, he said demanded the Election Commission of Pakistan to provide sufficient security to the ANP leadership amid threats from militants groups and ensure free and fair elections in a peaceful manner.

APP adds: The recent spate of intensity in terrorism attacks targeting candidates of Awami National Party (ANP) failed to intimidate its party men from participating in electoral process.

“We are determined to move forward instead of looking back and cannot be intimated by such act of cowardice by anti-state elements who are bent upon pushing the nation back towards stone age and darkness,” remarked Arbab Ayub Jan, senior leader of ANP and candidate of NA-4 while talking to this agency. Arbab Ayub Jan survived miraculously a bomb attack on his motorcade while coming back home after addressing an election rally in his constituency at main Grand Trunk road on last Thursday April 11. The jeep, Arbab Ayub Jan was embarking become totally destroyed but he remained unhurt miraculously along with his young son, Arbab Usman, candidate of PK: 9 and other supporters.

The April 11 deadly attack, which was the third life attempt by militants on Arbab Ayub Jan failed to deter him from his election plan. On the very next day, Arbab continued his public contact campaign as was scheduled before the bomb attack.

On Sunday (April 14) Arbab Ayub Jan remained busy from 11:00 a.m to 9:00 p.m addressing different public rallies and meeting people of his constituency to muster maximum support in his favour.

“Though we realize that this election is very dangerous and difficult, but we cannot tie our hands back for the sake of safety of our lives and will continue our mission of bringing peace in the country and making the nation prosperous by obstructing the designs of forces of backwardness,” he added.

Arbab Ayub Jan said if he loses his own life in accomplishment of this mission, the struggle of ANP will continue and other people will come forward even his son. He said ANP is the only party, which has rendered around 750 party men for the sake of safety and security of motherland and this sacrifice will continue till we succeed in our aim.

Same were the views of Barrister Haroon Bilour, son of Bashir Bilour and ANP candidate for provincial assembly seat Peshawar III (PK:III). Haroon has not came out of tragedy and grief over tragic death of his father, Bashir Bilour who died in a suicide attack a few months earlier while returning after attending a gathering of party members.

Haroon has preserved the blood stained remains of his father like wristwatch, hanker chief, shoes, socks, spectacles and pocket size Quranic verses in his house as relic of the departed soul.

“The death of my father is irrecoverable loss for our family, but we will continue the mission and cause for which he (Bashir Bilour) rendered his precious life,” Haroon vowed.

He said like his father he is not afraid of militants and have a strong believe in Allah that he is great Protector.  However, Haroon admitted that bomb attacks has badly affected the election campaign of ANP candidates who are finding it difficult to reach their electorate. We have to avoid holding big public gathering for the sake of security of our voters and common people because the militants are very brutal and they don’t care about anyone.

He stressed upon the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to chalk out separate code of conduct for electioneering in KP while keeping in view security problem in the province.

He suggested that a specific place should be selected for candidates to address public rallies and this site should be properly protected otherwise it is difficult to hold rallies in different localities of the city.

Former Information Minister and most vocal person who openly opposed militants, Mian Iftikhar Hussain was also of the view that security problem has given edge to the opponents of ANP.

My main weapon is my fiery speeches through which I convince voters to cost vote in favour of my party, but now I am restricted by my leaders and family members from meeting public.

However, he continued, he is in constant contact with his electorate by holding corner meetings in clandestine manner, addressing public through telephone and sending his relatives to his constituency.

Mian Iftikhar also complained that government has withdrawn security from him and other ANP leaders who are now facing serious threat from militants. 

He said government has also withdrawn security from Bacha Khan Markaz, which is also on the target due to stance of ANP against terrorists.  He also demanded of ECP to prepare a plan for giving level playing field to ANP candidates for contesting upcoming polls.