PESHAWAR: Awami National Party (ANP) provincial president Ameer Haider Hoti on Sunday said that Article 6 of the Constitution could not be invoked for opposing a development project.
Addressing a news conference at the Peshawar Press Club, he said the ANP respects national institutions, including the apex court. “We have much respect for the chief justice of Pakistan but his statement regarding a controversial project has perturbed the ANP leadership,” he added.
The former chief minister said the ANP supported the construction of new dams to cater to the country’s water needs. However, he argued the apex court should not become involved in a project that is controversial from the very beginning.
Haider Hoti said the provinces had a clear stance on Kalabagh dam. “We are not against dams. We are against our destruction,” he remarked.
Arguing that Article 6 of the Constitution was clear, he advised the chief justice not to touch controversial issues and this could fail his initiatives.
Haider Hoti said that opposing a project was not treason, adding, that a case under Article 6 is pending and the chief justice should decide it.
About the allegation of rigging in elections, the ANP provincial president said the government had not taken any step regarding the opposition’s demand for a probe into the polls.
He said it was important for democracy that the role of all stakeholders was investigated. Prime Minister Imran Khan had promised to conduct an inquiry into the rigging allegations but had backtracked on his pledge, Haider Hoti maintained.
He demanded the constitution of a parliamentary commission to investigate whether the mandate had been stolen or not. “The commission should have representation of all political parties. The investigation should focus all entities that were involved in the election process, including candidates, political parties, Election Commission of Pakistan and army,” he demanded.
He said the results of the by-elections would be no different from the general election if the same tactics were used. “This would further deepen the mistrust among the masses regarding national institutions,” he warned.
Haider Hoti pointed out that the ANP lost hundreds of workers in acts of terrorism since 2008 as the party had taken ownership of the war against terrorism. He said Mian Iftikhar Hussain being in the forefront in the war against terrorism was on the hit-list during the ANP rule. However, it was beyond comprehension that Mian Iftikhar was again on the hit-list after he spoke against the election rigging, he added.
He questioned whether the terrorists had taken part in elections that they were planning to target him for his protest against the rigging. He criticised the government for not fulfilling its responsibility when it knows the whereabouts of the attackers.
The ANP leader asked the government to do more than just providing information and fulfil its responsibility of providing security to citizens.
The ANP provincial president said that Mian Iftikhar’s case was not the only failure of the government. “It failed to provide answers to the party and family of Haroon Bilour over his martyrdom. It could not solve the target killing of Ibrar Khalil,” he added.
The ANP leader said the party would hold the government and state institutions responsible if Mian Iftikhar was harmed.
Commenting on the new National Finance Commission Award, he said that a suggestion of reducing the provinces’ share was on the cards.
He said NFC award was passed before the 18th Constitutional Amendment. “The 18th amendment to the Constitution devolved subjects, including education, which were federal responsibility. After the amendment, these subjects were handed over to the provinces and the new NFC should increase the share of province instead of decreasing it,” he argued. The ANP leader pointed out that tribal districts were federal responsibility before the merger. “After the merger, the problems have increased manifold. The new NFC award should have all the financial packages announced at the time of 18th Amendment, merger and the package for former Fata,” he said.
He asked the government to concentrate on the legal, administrative and financial issues of the merged districts. He warned that delay would further alienate the residents of tribal districts.
Haider Hoti said Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf had made big promises before the election but after forming the government it wanted to further burden the citizens with taxes.
He said his party would support the government if it takes steps to improve the economy, but would resist hike in utilities’ prices. Opposing bringing former Fata and Malakand division into the tax net, he argued that the conflict affected areas should have been given incentives. To a question about Ehtesab Commission, he alleged the PTI government had used it against opponents but it was closed when it tried to lay hands on the government functionaries.
“Who should be held responsible for the time and resources wasted and people harassed through the commission?” he questioned. He said the chief justice who takes suo moto on every issue should have taken notice of the proposed dissolution of Ehtesab Commission as well.