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A Widening Gulf
A Widening Gulf

A Widening Gulf

Cracks in PkMAP deepen as both factions stick to their guns

Quetta: The internal crisis of the Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) intensifies as both factions of the party refuse to engage in any dialogue or negotiation despite an existential threat posed by the Awami National Party and the National Democratic Movement – two other Pashtoon nationalist parties that may replace them in Balochistan.

The rebels led by Mukhtiar Yousafzai have stood up against what they call the autocratic attitude of the party chairman, Mahmood Khan Achakzai. The party chief has also refused to listen to them and taken strict action against their “sheer violation of the party constitution and discipline”.

“In this age, I have to take such tough decisions which I hated to make in the past – in the interests of the party – as central secretary general Mukhtiar Yousafzai and his group has brought the party to this juncture leaving me with no option except to make strict decisions,” Achakzai told the media recently during a press conference at the party secretariat.

Mukhtiar Yousafzai, who belongs to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province, wanted to hold a central committee meeting at the party office but as the office building is in possession of the party chief, he did not get permission.


The rebels later held the meeting at the residence of a senior leader, Mohammad Yousaf Kakar.

Achakzai refused to accept the decision of the meeting, claiming that the so-called central committee had no authority as it had already been dissolved. The rebel group insisted that the committee was very much intact and was authorized to make decisions for the party.

While both the factions refuse to engage with each other, the ANP – which has been traditionally popular in the KP province – is likely to gain ground in Balochistan.

The ideological workers of PKMAP who do not want to become part of any of the factions are likely to join or support the ANP which does not subscribe to PKMAP’s Baloch policy

PkMAP has been struggling for creation of a separate province – Pashtoonistan or Pashtoonkhwa – comprising both the KP and the Pashtoon areas of Balochistan. Its struggle has, however, lost some steam after the renaming of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Now the party does not demand merger of Balochistan’s Pashtoon areas with the KP but wants equal share in resources. Baloch, who are in majority in the province, reject this demand as they believe that the Pashtoon should claim a share in accordance with their proportion.


Interestingly, Abdus Samad Khan Achakzai, Mahmood’s father was known as the Baloch Gandhi as he advocated for the rights of Baloch people and chaired the first Baloch Congress along with Baloch leader Nawab Saifullah Magsi back in 1930s. The congress was held in Jacobabad.

Abdus Samad, who was assassinated in December 1973 in a hand grenade attack at his residence, had also formed Anjuman-e-Watan Party in 1930 to raise voice for the rights of both Baloch and Pashtoons.

He had struggled against the British Raj and had spent 33 years of his life behind bars. He was also one of the top leaders of the National Awami Party (NAP) till abolition of the One Unit and formation of five provinces, including the former East Pakistan.

However, he objected to calling the province “Balochistan” as the name referred to only one ethnic group and he laid the foundation of the Pashtoonkhwa National Awami Party. The party was renamed by his son Mahmood Khan Achakzai in 1989 as the PkMAP.

A great rebellion

People have been leaving PkMAP in the past but the recent expulsion of a whole lot of senior ideological leaders and stalwarts is an unprecedented development.


Almost all the office bearers of the KP and Sindh have been expelled on the orders of the chairman for participating in the controversial central committee meeting.

Interestingly, Khushaal Khan Kakar, the son of late party leader Usman Khan Kakar, had also participated in the central committee meeting. However, Achakzai did not expel him in view of his father’s loyalty

The rebel group had also invited the party chief to the meeting and decided to hold a party congress in Quetta, the supreme body which meets after every five years in the last week of December.

Mahmood Khan Achakzai also held a public meeting in Quetta on December 2 on the eve of the 49th death anniversary of his father. He repeated his stance against the rebels at the meeting.

The party had won 10 seats in the Balochistan Assembly in the 2013 general election but could grab only one seat in 2018 polls.

Achakzai has, however, expelled this lone party MPA, Nasrullah Zayrai, for joining the rebel group. The party also announced sending a reference to the Election Commission of Pakistan for de-seating Zayrai.


The National Party (NP) which had formed a coalition government after the 2013 election with the help of PkMAP and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) also offered to act as a mediator between the two PkMAP factions but neither of the groups responded in a positive manner.

“We feel sorry that our ally is suffering from divisions and I approached the responsible leaders from both sides to get them united again, but their response was not encouraging,” said NP’s secretary general Jan Mohammad Buledi.

Causes of division

Since the party elections were not held for a long time and the central committee had come into being and party decisions were made in consultation with a handful of members close to the party leadership.

The party tickets were also distributed among family members and relatives of Mahmood Khan Achakzai or people loyal to him.

In the wake of 2013 polls, the leadership also nominated Mahmood’s brother Mohammad Achakzai – a retired government servant – for governor while rejecting the recommendation of the party which wanted to have Syed Akram Shah, a senior leader, appointed to the largely ceremonial position.


Mohammad Achakzai had nothing to his credit except that he was the son of the founder of the party.

However, the biggest crack appeared in the party when Mahmood Khan Achakzai changed the party policy towards the Pakistani establishment as well as the Afghan Taliban.

Earlier, the party supported the western backed Afghan government of Hamid Karzai and Ashraf Ghani and described the Taliban as terrorists.

However, during the last decade, Achakzai got closer to Maulana Fazlur Rahman and recently he has publicly called himself as a representative of the Afghan Taliban.

The activities of the Pakhtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) led by Manzoor Pashteen also created a division in PkMAP. The party activists and leaders have been participating in the PTM rallies in Balochistan without the approval of leadership which believes that the movement may become a threat to the party.

This is for the first time that a Pashtoon nationalist party is facing imminent disintegration in Balochistan. Interestingly, the Baloch nationalist parties have been experiencing such turmoil since the mid-1970s when the then government imposed a ban on the National Awami Party (NAP).


Later, all Baloch leader like Mir Ghous Bakhsh Bizenjo, Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri, Nawab Akbar Bugti and Sardar Attaullah Mengal had launched their separate parties The Balochistan National Party (BNP) had managed to unite the Baloch for some time under the leadership of Sardar Attaullah Mengal.

However, this alliance had proved to be short-lived as seven out of the total eleven lawmakers of the party had parted ways during a BNP central committee meeting months after formation of the party’s government.


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