Peshawar: Giving a clear-cut message to militants, the Awami National Party
chief, Asfandyar Wali Khan, said they would not surrender to extremist forces,
come what may.
"We’ve a long history of sacrifices and will emulate the mission of our
martyrs who laid down their lives in Qissa Khwani, Takkar and Babra tragedies.
And the terrorists must bear in mind the fact that their terror activities
cannot stop us from ameliorating the plight of Pakhtuns, " he told a huge
gathering at the Nishtar Hall here on Sunday.
The gathering was organised in connection with the death anniversaries of
Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (Baacha Khan) and Khan Abdul Wali Khan.
"The ANP is ready to face Babra-like tragedies but will never give in to the
terrorists," he added.
But almost in the same breath, he said being the follower of Baacha Khan’s
policy of non-violence, the ANP was ready for dialogue-based solution to the
recent mayhem. However, he was quick to add that negotiations would be held
those who would lay down their arms and renounce terror.
"I am ready to talk even to the people who are involved in a suicide attack
on me if they surrender arms and promise to lead a peaceful life," Asfandyar
Wali Khan said. "If they (terrorists) say that my killing will lead to peace in
the Pakhtun areas and stop the killing of innocent Pakhtuns, I swear by God that
I will shed my blood for the betterment of Pakhtuns," he said emotionally.
Lauding the services rendered by Baacha Khan and Wali Khan, the nationalist
leader said today country was faced with two basic problems–terrorism and
provincial autonomy–and the solution to both the problems lies in the politics
of peace. Criticising the militants, Asfandyar Wali said, " It is not a war of
Islam and Kufr, but only terrorism."
" What kind of Islam is this which allows digging of a body from a grave and
hanging it in the trouser (shalwar) above his ankles".
Discussing relationship among three neighbouring countries-Pakistan, India
and Afghanistan-the ANP chief said the war was no solution to any problem,
suggesting the leadership of the countries to join hands to curb the menace of
terrorism as it is not the problem of a particular country but the entire region
was facing terrorism.
"History shows that peace of the region is inter-linked and any development
in Kabul would have its effects in Pakistan and India," he said, elaborating
that if Pakistan wanted peace on its soil, it would have to make serious
endeavours for peace in Afghanistan, and like-wise instability in Pakistan would
have a negative effect on India.
Asfandyar described the provincial autonomy as a must for the stability of
the country, saying: " Pakistan can never progress till the provinces are given
full control of their resources…. we’ll have to rid ourselves of the
impression that Pakistan consists of only Punjab. Smaller federating units of
the country are equal parts of the country."
Referring to the repeal of the 17th constitutional amendments, he said it was
high time to abolish it, but hastened to add that it was not a solution to all
of our problems.
" A comprehensive constitutional package is required, encompassing all the
problems of the people, including renaming of the Frontier Province as
Pakhtunkhwa, " he said, adding that ANP would support only such a package, which
solved problems of the Pakhtuns.
He said that the ANP’s stance on renaming of he province was not rigid,
adding that if there was any objection to Pakhtunkhwa name, the ANP was ready to
consider Pakhtunistan or Afghania. He said there should not be any objection to
renaming of the provinces as Afghania, as it was the name given to the province
by Chaudhry Rahmat Ali, who had coined the name Pakistan for this land.
Addressing the gathering, former provincial president of ANP Begum Naseem
Wali Khansaid Pakhtuns were being killed under conspiracy. She said those killed
were Pakhtuns and those being blamed for the killings were also Pakhtuns. "It is
an irony of fate is that only Pakhtuns are killed and maimed but at the same
time they are being labeled as terrorists," said More Bibi.
The party provincial president Afrasiab Khan Khattak said today’s gathering
had proved that Pakhtuns were united and they would stay united against all
odds. He said ANP’s victory in the February 2008 general elections proved to the
world that Pakhtuns were peace-loving people and htey hated terrorism and
He said ANP was at the receiving end in the recent chaos in the Frontier
Province and the tribal belt. However, he added, the party would never quit its
principled stance on the non-violence philosophy of Baacha Khan.
It merits a mention here that thousands of ANP workers thronged the NIshtar
Hall to pay homage to their leaders. They were carrying the party red flags and
banners, inscribed with slogans in praise of Bacha Khan and Wali Khan.