State terrorism caused innocent deaths: Asfandyar

Refutes reports of going to Karachi at Sindh govt invitation

By: Rahimullah Yusufzai

Refuting reports that he was going to Karachi on the invitation of the Sindh government or the ruling PML-Q and MQM leadership, Awami National Party (ANP) Central President Asfandyar Wali Khan said here Friday night that he was undertaking the trip on his own to offer condolences to the families of political workers killed by MQM-affiliated people on May 12.

"I will offer Fateha for every deceased political worker except those of the MQM. I will visit injured workers belonging to the ANP and other parties," he said during a speech to about 200 specially invited guests at a dinner hosted by ANP leader Syed Aqil Shah.

The guests included ANP leaders from all over NWFP as well a few politicians from other parties, members of the intelligentsia and mediamen. Top ANP leaders Afrasiab Khattak, Latif Afridi, Mian Iftikhar Hussain, Baz Mohammad Khan, Dr Humayun Khan, etc were conspicuous by their presence.

Asfandyar Wali said he was leaving for Karachi today. "This is a healing touch visit. I want to condole with the bereaved families and enquire about the health of the wounded political workers," he said.

Talking to The News later, Asfandyar Wali said 13 Pakhtun political workers affiliated to the ANP were killed and 17 others were injured in the May 12 Karachi carnage caused by the MQM. He said two ANP workers seriously wounded on May 12 succumbed to their injuries to raise the death toll to 13.

Pointing out that political workers from the PPP, Jamaat-e-Islami and Sunni Tehrik were also shot dead on the streets of Karachi on May 12, the ANP leader in his Pashto speech argued that they were killed as part of a political battle and not ethnic fight. "This isn't an ethnic battle. The problems of Karachi are neither linguistic nor ethnic," he stressed.

He called for unity among democratic political forces engaged in the struggle for true democracy in Pakistan. He said President Musharraf was committing mistakes because these were his last days in power.

In his usual combative style, Asfandyar Wali said Pakhtuns living in Karachi must be given their rights and allowed to peacefully co-exist with MQM supporters and others. "I told Sindh Governor Ishratul Ibad Khan when he phoned me that killing workers of other political parties on May 12 was intended to give a message that Karachi was MQM city. I made it clear that Karachi isn't only an MQM city," he recalled.

Arguing that MQM wasn't a political party in the real sense and was instead a group, the ANP president said its workers unleashed state terrorism in Karachi on May 12. Without naming MQM's London-based head Altaf Hussain, he said he cursed this person who declared himself a soldier and follower of late Bacha Khan (Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan) and Rahman Baba. "Bacha Khan believed in non-violence. And does he know a single verse of Rahman Baba?" he asked.

Asfandyar Wali regretted that President Musharraf sent the wrong message by praising the MQM despite the criminal acts of the party members in Karachi on May 12. He said there would have been no violence had the government allowed Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry to enter Karachi and speak at the Karachi High Court Bar Association function.

"I asked Senator Mushahid Hussain as to how the president missed watching the bodies of slain political workers lying on the streets of Karachi. Why didn't he take notice and order action?" he queried.

He said Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz spent a day in Karachi and exonerated the MQM of all charges. As for PML-Q leader Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Asfandyar Wali recalled that the only Punjabi sentences he uttered while talking to him on phone was to ask him as to when he was reaching Islamabad. "That is all. He asked as to how I was feeling and then enquired as to when I will be reaching Islamabad. There has been no contact after that," he said.

Pointing out that it was now a question of the very survival of Pakhtuns and not an issue of their rights only, Asfandyar Wali felt every Pakhtun should ponder not only about the situation in Karachi but also in the NWFP and Fata. "We Pakhtuns should also be concerned about the sufferings of the Pakhtuns in Peshawar, Tank, Waziristan and rest of Fata. We were warning that the fire in Afghanistan would spread to Pakistan. It has already spread to Fata and some of our districts and would now reach Punjab," he contended.

Condemning efforts to paint the Pakhtuns as terrorists, he said the Pakhtun people were awakening and demanding their rights. He warned that Pakhtuns were kind of a mad people who never submitted to any force.

When reminded that ANP had some sort of an agreement with MQM in Karachi, Asfandyar Wali said it was for a limited purpose with both sides agreeing not to fight each other. "Also let me remind you that Dr Farooq Sattar was a joint candidate of MQM and ANP in the last elections. He and the MQM owe us something for winning that National Assembly seat in Karachi with our backing," he quipped.

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