“Lawlessness and terror-related activities are on the rise [in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa] as compared to the past”, said Asfandyar Wali Khan, central president of the Awami National Party (ANP). Wali, talking to reporters in his hometown of Charsadda on August 10, demanded that the PTI-led coalition government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa resign on moral grounds after their failure to handle the D.I. Khan Jailbreak, a major security breakdown, and due to the worsening law and order situation in the province.
In the 2008 general election, ANP won 48 seats in the Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa Assembly and remained in power till 2013. However, in the May 11 general elections, the nationalist party faced tough competition from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and won an embarrassingly low number of four seats in the provincial assembly out of 124.
In by-elections on August 22, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf gave tough competition to both the nationalist ANP and Islamist JUI [Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam of Maulana Fazal Rehman] in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
All the opposition parties in the KP, including ANP, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and JUI-F, fielded joint candidates against the PTI and its coalition partners. The Imran-led PTI retained its tally of national assembly seats in the province by winning the seat in Lakki Marwat (the seat vacated by Maulana Fazal Rehman the result is not yet announced) after loosing to ANP on NA-1 Peshawar ( a seat vacated by PTI chairman Imran Khan).
“PTI leadership is confused…and haven’t any clear policy on tackling the issue of terrorism and extremism rapidly expanding in the province,” Sardar Hussain Babak, ANP Parliamentary leader in KPK Assembly, said.
“Terrorists are now roaming free in the settled areas…. even in posh localities like Hayatabad,” Babak tells TT while confirming the statement of his party leader Asfandyar Wali.
Babak said no doubt the Bannu jailbreak took place during ANP’s tenure, but that police responded quickly and put up a tough resistance because of the party’s clear and straightforward approach to terrorism and extremism. “But we didn’t observe any face off with militants when terrorists broke the D.I. Khan jail,” says Babak.
He said that following the D.I. Khan jailbreak, the PTI leaders, instead of condemning the terrorists, came down hard on police and publicly disgraced the force in a bid to win the sympathies of the militants.
A security analyst and commentator Brig (r) Mehmood Shah counted more than 300 people killed in 60 terrorist attacks in the province since the PTI assumed power. “Increasing terrorists incidents during the past three months show the fact that law and order has deteriorated in the province,” Brig Shah tells TT.
“The PTI led government failed to protect the lives of people,” he said, and added that over three months, they neither proceeded to start the dialogue with militants nor had any alternative plan to stop terrorism. Brig Shah, agreeing with Babak, said it seemed that the PTI government had no planning or even vision for how to handle the most complex issues of terrorism and extremism in the province.
Truth Tracker tried to contact Provincial information minister Shah Farman but could not succeed as the Minister’s office did not respond to TT calls. However, TT talked to the provincial coordinator of PTI, Umar Younas, who said that people rejected the ANP candidates during the general elections and now their leaders were trying to get public sympathy for the by-polls.
Younas rejected as propaganda that the law and order situation was deteriorating in the province. “It [law and order] was worst during the ANP led government,” he said, and added that PTI was struggling hard to resolve the problem with dialogue.
Younas pointed out that the provincial government was working on a detailed plan to strengthen the provincial police force and intelligence department. “The CM wants to strengthen the police intelligence network so that it can bust the criminals’ network before it strikes a public place or targets government installations,” says Younas.
Taking into account the independent viewpoint and other interviews, we can say that the statement is mostly true.