The former Interior Minister and a senior Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has announced to contest the upcoming general elections independently. He has clarified that “I neither expect their [PML-N] ticket nor do I need it.” Nisar was talking to party workers during a corner meeting at Rawalpindi’s Adiala Road.
There was a deadlock within the party in deciding Nisar’s fate. The ousted Prime Minster and former head of the party Nawaz Sharif did not want the estranged PML-N leader to contest upcoming elections from the party platform. But the present-head of the PML-N Shehbaz Sharif met Nisar many times and made all efforts to convince him to appear before the parliamentary committee for getting the ticket.
Nisar, who is known for being a man of principles, remained firm and consistent on the stance that senior leaders are not required to appear before a committee to seek a ticket. “The party [PML-N] has issued tickets to political orphans,” he alleged. He also asked his workers to work hard to ensure victory in the upcoming elections. “I will contest the election as independent; there is a need for even more hard work now.”
He also spoke against the Sharifs who, in his view, do not care about loyal leaders who remained with the party in all weathers. “These Sharifs will not be able to show their faces anywhere if I decide to open my mouth.” He further elaborated that he had been keeping mum on several matters because of his 34-year association with the Sharif brothers.
While talking about Nawaz’s daughter Maryam, Nisar made an interesting comment and stated that “an opponent of Aurat Raj (women holding political office) has now imposed his daughter on the party.” Maryam Nawaz has been exerting her influence over the senior leaders of the party especially after the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif in Panama Papers case.
Ch. Nisar has repeatedly conveyed openly that it was not possible for him to work under the leadership of a child, meaning Maryam. The former minister has submitted his nomination papers for NA-63 Taxila, NA-59 Rawalpindi, PP-12 and PP-10
There were some reports circulating in media, suggesting Ch. Nisar was all set to join Imran Khan’s PTI. But Nisar clarified, on several occasions, that he was an integral part of the PML-N despite some differences with the party leadership. It was, however, interesting to note, during his talk in Rawalpindi, when asked by some workers if he (Nisar) was planning to join the PTI, Ch. Nisar preferred to offer a vague answer. “You focus on the elections, [I] will decide what is better,” he answered.
Media reports became more relevant when Nisar Ali Khan compared the PML-N with PTI and said the latter was better than the former. “While there might be 10 faults within the PTI, there are more than 100 flaws in the N-league,” angry Nisar asserted.
PML-N is still divided about Nisar Ali Khan and his position in the party. Nisar is known for his uprightness and bold criticism on the party policies. He has openly opposed Nawaz’s anti-establishment and anti-judiciary narrative. Mr. Nisar has suggested, many times, to Nawaz and his daughter to avoid the politics of confrontation, but the latter have always ignored his advice.
This is an interesting situation. If the PML-N fails to get Nisar back on the track, there may be a complex and difficult challenge for the Sharifs ahead especially since Nisar Ali Khan is an insider and has an influence on many PML-N lawmakers. If Nisar quits the party, there will be many other like-minded leaders and workers who will follow the same path. This is a test for the PML-N before the general elections.