By: Syed Akhtar Ali Shah

Aimal Wali Khan, elected as provincial President of Awami National Party on April 10, 2019 for a tenure of four years, completes his one year. Annual appraisal of the party’s performance and plan for the future is a usual course. Awami National Party believing in the democratic ethos has always presented its annual reports to its constituent bodies and and to the public and continues to do so.

Aimal Wali Khan talking to media after presiding the first cabinet meeting

Political parties no doubt are now the most important players in keeping a nation state intact by linking people of different parts of the country. Pakistan is no exception. Being a federal democracy, the role of political parties becomes espousing the rights smaller provinces becomes more important. Awami National Party being the continuation of the historic process dating back to 1910 is an expression of the identity of the Pakhtuns, their aspirations, dreams of a better tomorrow and national rights. The party claims to draws its inspiration from the life and struggle and teachings of Bacha Khan, embedded in peace, nonviolence, ceaseless and unrelenting struggle for the cause of freedom and justice, and against all kinds of injustice, oppression and exploitation. In line with those principles, Awami National Party always stood for the supremacy of the constitution, civilian supremacy and federalism. Today, new challenges have emerged to freedom, federalism and national rights.

In this backdrop, amidst challenges of peace in Afghanistan, a 40 years long conflict having brought death, destruction and displacement, merger of tribal areas, disenchantment of youth, undermining 18th amemdment and federalism and marginal presence of the party in the National and Provincial Assembly has made the task of the Provincial President formidable and crucial. To be frank despondency, disillusionment and inertia prevailed all over after the dismal performance of the party in the 2018 elections whatever the cause may be, therefor revival of the sagging spirit of  remained the the big question.

Aimal Wali Khan during Four days’ Karak Visit

With the election of Aimal Wali Khan, many tongues wagged with a question whether he would be able to steer the ship of the party out of the troubled waters. The abilities and qualities of a leader are always tested in crisis. The demonstration of those qualities makes him or her endear to the people. Leaders always having the sense of history, courage to take even unpopular decisions in greater interest of the party at times, amiable, firm and resolute with courage of conviction steers the ship to safe shores.

Aimal Wali Khan remaining quiet and believing that action speaks louder than words proved his critics wrong by his demonstrable ability necessary for a leader.  Unfolding his plans, he embarked upon his mission to carry forward the great historic and political legacy with Bacha Khan’s message of nonviolence, peace, unity, national democracy and egalitarianism not only to the nook and corner of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but also Sindh, Punjab and Baluchistan.

Aimal Wali Khan Presiding over the Jirga regarding issues of Merged areas

Adopting proper methodology, he firmed up his action on the organizational structure of the party, tasking every office bearer and worker with goals and timelines. Loud and clear he said that business as usual would not be the norm and everyone would be evaluated on the basis of their outcome. He made no bones about discipline by making it clear that no one was above the constitution of the party.

Under a well thought strategy he identified the weak areas of the party, estranged and inactive workers.  With this plan he undertook tours of the districts, visiting and interacting with workers of all folks. Having heard them he fired their spirit. His persuasion worked well, rejuvenating the workers and vibrating the party.  Farid Toofan former Minister, Istiaqbal Khan former MNA and others were brought back to the party fold.  The joining of the political stalwarts like Yasin Khalil former MPA, Sahib Gul former MPA, Dr Umar Daraz and others speaks volumes of the enhanced graph of the popularity. He held big public meetings in all the main districts of the province.

Aimal Wali Khan welcomed by Farid Toofan and other leadership during Karak visit

Realizing the pivotal role of the the print and electronic media, he not only organized a media cell but also started publishing Daily Shahbaz which remained closed since 1996. Publication of 36 books as director of Bacha Khan in short span of time is indeed another feather to his cap. The 10 days annual death anniversaries in a befitting manner encompassing public meetings in four zones of the province, cultural, shows, quizzes, seminars, paintings and books exhibitions were the hallmarks of the party. Besides this, he has encouraged the conduct of regular study circles which enrich the intellectual faculties of the youth.

Gul Sahib Khan joins ANP at Bacha Khan Markaz

With an intention to unite all the important Pakhtun voices at one platform to generate a chorus for peaceful settlement of the issues facing the region, he not only conducted a Quami Jirga but also gathered all parties on issues of the merged tribal areas with grace and maturity. Mincing no words on the issues of freedom of press, democracy, national rights and price hike he rekindled the spirit of defiance by organizing public, meetings and seminars.   

Aimal Wali Khan addressing a huge gathering at Batkhela on the eve of Bacha Khan Week 2020

A well knitted organization is always built around discipline. Without discipline it is hard to gain coherence and workers may work at cross purposes. The bigger the challenge, the stricter has to be the discipline. A Leader is he who is able to maintain discipline in his ranks and file and take hard decisions even at the cost of populism. Demonstrating courage and conviction in order to maintain party discipline he expelled big names along with others. He also acted swiftly on matter of indiscipline in Pakhtun Student’s Federation by removing its President and General Secretary.

His activity during his first year as provincial President has proved that he has the sense of history, sense of public public pulse and conviction in federal democracy. With his hard work, zeal and enthusiasm today once again the party is vibrant and expressing the aspirations of the people, in particular the youth. Indeed, he is the rightful heir to wear the mantle of the legacy of Bacha Khan.