ISLAMABAD: Awami National Party chief Asfandyar Wali Khan is scheduled to hold a crucial meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari in Islamabad as part of his party’s push for a military operation against terrorist sanctuaries before parliamentary elections.
“Yes, our leader Asfandyar Wali will have an important meeting with President Zardari soon after his (Zardari’s) return from Sindh,” said ANP Senator Haji Muhammad Adeel.
President Zardari is in Garhi Khuda Bux in connection with the 5th death anniversary commemoration of his late wife and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
Senator Adeel said his party has been a victim of militancy, particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where it has lost scores of workers and leaders, including three lawmakers. Most recently, senior Khyber Pakhtunkhwa minister Bashir Bilour was killed in a suicide attack in Peshawar.
ANP’s top leaders met earlier this week and called for a national consensus for a decisive action against ‘terrorist sanctuaries’. The meeting authorised Asfandyar Wali to contact all political and religious parties to enlist their support.
“We will not give in to those who challenge the writ of the government, and we need the support of the federal government and other stakeholders,” Senator Adeel said.
In his meeting with President Zardari, Asfandyar Wali is likely to push for military action against elements that frequently attack law-enforcement agencies and politicians.
“Decisive military action is needed against the sanctuaries of militants in some parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on the pattern of Swat operation to purge the province of militancy,” a senior ANP leader said on condition of anonymity.
“Our party is on the hit-list of militants. They [militants] believe in violence and want to impose their own brand of Islam. No party will accept state within a state.” he added.
Security analysts say the government should have taken military action against insurgents much earlier. ‘There is still time for a major military offensive,’ said former FATA secretary Brigadier (Retired) Mehmood Shah.
The government has to chalk out a comprehensive ‘anti-terrorism strategy’ keeping in view the upcoming elections, as well as possible repercussions of the Nato troop pullout from Afghanistan in 2014, he added.
However, Brigadier Shah said a major military operation in North Waziristan Agency, which is believed to be the last stronghold of local and foreign militants, will not be possible in winter.