President of the Awami National Party Asfandyar Wali Khan and Senator Abdul Nabi Bangash at a function in Sharjah. Image Credit: Khalid Gondal

Dubai: Chief of Awami National Party (ANP) Asfandyar Wali Khan has said renaming of their province as Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa is just the beginning of a long fight for their rights.

"We have taken our identity with the renaming of our province and now we will fight for our rights," Khan said while addressing Pakthoon community members in the UAE in the jam-packed hall of Pakistan Social Centre in Sharjah. He said the recently passed 18th amendment in the Constitution would also give greater provincial autonomy to all the provinces and further strengthen the federation of Pakistan.

Khan was given a standing ovation and loud slogans of ‘Long live Pakhtoonkhwa' were raised as he entered the hall, which was decorated with a giant banner in red — a colour synonymous to secular and liberal ANP. Hundreds of expatriate Pakhtoon community members from all over the UAE gathered at the ceremony held to celebrate the renaming of their province.

They played Pushtu songs, recited Pushtu poetry of great poets such as Baba Khushal Khan Khattak and also raised slogans cheering Asfandyar Wali and the ANP's Dubai-based Senator Abdul Nabi Bangash.

Passionate Pakhtoons donned Khan and Bangash with traditional turbans to recognise their services and efforts in renaming their province. They also played Pakhoonkhwa Tarana (anthem) to mark the occasion.

No objection

In his speech, the ANP chief said that riots in Abbottabad in the Hazara divisions of the Khyber Pakhtoonkhawa province were uncalled for at the time of renaming the province.

"It was the result of differences between two parties — Pakistan Muslim League [Nawaz] and Pakistan Muslim League [Q] — as they wanted to exploit the situation," he said.

"I have no objection if the people of Hazara want to have a separate province for it is their right but they should adopt the constitutional way," he added. Khan thanked all the political parties for supporting the renaming of the province. "I especially thank President Asif Ali Zardari who kept his promise and Nawaz Sharif who supported our cause," he said.