Awami National Party

Published 18th April, 2013

The Awami National Party is the largest Pashtun party in Pakistan. It was founded by Abdul Wali Khan in 1986, as a successor to the reformist National Awami Party (NAP). It was created by the merger of a number of left-wing groups including the Awami Tehrik and the National Democratic Party. Although its centre of influence is in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, it also has support in Balochistan and Sindh. Wali Khan was elected as its first president and Sindhi socialist Rasul Bux Palejo was appointed its first secretary general. From 1986 to 1988, the ANP party was a member of the Movement for Restoration of Democracy.

Despite differing ideologies, the Awami National Party has been an ally of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and also Mutahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM). The ANP has previously entered into coalition with both parties in provincial government, but the alliance with the PPP collapsed in April 1989, after Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto ordered a military action that brutally failed. The ANP later formed an alliance with the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) in early June 1989 which led to a formal split in the party with many activists allying with the PPP.

The ANP won six seats in the National Assembly in the elections of 1990 and was in coalition with the PML for the next eight years. Its representation dropped to three seats in 1993 and the party then joined the Grand Democratic Alliance, campaigning against government policies.

In the 2002 elections the party was in alliance with the PPP. However, both parties were electorally routed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by the religion-political alliance Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) due to anti-American sentiment in Pakistan. The ANP was opposed to the Taliban and support for the NATO-backed Karzai administration in Afghanistan. Subsequently the ANP joined the opposition All Parties Democratic Movement, but all but the PPP resigned from Parliament in October 2007 in protest against the military regime of Pervez Musharraf. The ANP has been targeted a number of times by presumed Taliban supporters, but has always advocated dialogue with tribal leaders.

In the election on 8 February 2008, the Awami National Party was in fifth place overall, with 10 of the elected seats in the National Assembly and on 2 March 2012, the party won 7 of the 54 seats up for election in the Senate.

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