- Interior minister likely to make his way back into cabinet after meeting with Sharifs today
- Potohar lawmakers woo ‘angry’ Nisar to take back Interior Ministry charge
- Nisar’s stay likely to be brief in PML-N as elder Sharif is ‘unhappy’, encircled by ‘anti-Nisar’ ministers
Following a meeting with Sharif brothers today (Thursday), Pakistan Today has learnt that Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan may reach truce with the elder Sharif and officially take back his resignation after around 30 lawmakers from the Potohar region persuaded the minister Wednesday to set things right.
The ruling party lawmakers thronged Punjab House to meet Nisar, an unofficial party chief of North Punjab, and urged him to take back his resignation as interior minister.
State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Aftab Shaikh told Pakistan Today that Nisar was highly regarded in the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and efforts were underway to remove his grievances.
“He will soon return to the cabinet once his reservations are addressed,” he added.
TRUCE WON’T LAST LONG:
Sources within the ruling party, however, believe that this rapprochement was not going to last long as the elder Sharif was unhappy with Nisar.
Sources added that upon his return to the ministry, Nisar could face further problems thanks to PM’s Special Assistant Irfan Siddiqi – “another man instrumental behind the mess” created between Nisar and Nawaz.
“The prime minister never called for Nisar’s return. It was actually Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif who played a key role in persuading Nisar to take back his unannounced resignation. Even if Nisar returns, his stay may be brief as the prime minister is encircled by anti-Nisar ministers who are hell-bent on getting him fired sooner or later,” a party leader in the ruling party told Pakistan Today requesting anonymity.
Earlier, Nisar had resigned from the federal cabinet during a meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on June 14 over “unabated interference and meddling” into the domains of his ministry by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Defence Minister Khwaja Asif.
Sources said that Nisar was “angry” over Asif’s televised interview in which he had criticised the interior minister’s handling of the dialogue process with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), describing the dialogue process “a waste of time”.
Following the interview, Nisar had raised the issue with the premier but could not convince him to get the minister sacked, sources said, adding that following his failed attempt, Nisar was under intense mental pressure and later in the day was admitted to a hospital where he underwent an angiography.
Nisar also tendered resignation from his office and did not attend the recent cabinet meetings. He also remained absent from the parliamentary sessions despite the premier asking him to continue as a cabinet member.
The source added that in the absence of Nisar, the prime minister had directed SAFRON Minister Abdul Qadir Baloch to take charge of the Interior Ministry and coordinate with the military’s top brass regarding military operation in North Waziristan Agency.
Moreover, the source said, Nisar was “perturbed” over Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s interference into the Interior Ministry’s affairs.
“Dar intervened when Nisar had refused to facilitate issuance of CNIC and passport to MQM chief Altaf Hussain in London. Though Nisar was dealing with the matter, Dar phoned MQM leader Dr Farooq Sattar and informed that soon a NADRA team would be visiting Altaf Hussain at his London residence and all requirements would be completed for issuance of CNIC and passport,” the source added.
Angered over the interference, Nisar had directed NADRA chairman to “never obey orders of any other party leader till he did not direct him”.
Nisar had even remained absent from the scene when terrorists attacked Karachi airport, leaving PPP lawmakers an opportunity to criticise the federal government.
Considering Nisar’s absence from the parliament, sources said that prime minister approached Nisar twice at his house but he couldn’t meet him each time.
However, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Tuesday held a meeting with Nisar at his Faizabad residence where he remained for about four hours and discussed with him the political and security situation in the country with reference to the Pakistan Awami Tehreek’s anti -government campaign.
Tuesday’s was the second such visit of Shahbaz at the residence of Nisar during the past one month.
Even on Thursday, the prime minister turned up in the parliament for the third time but the interior minister did not accompany him. He walked in later though.
Another party leader said that the interior minister was also unhappy with the prime minister’s handling of the tussle between the Geo group and the military establishment.
Nisar had also expressed his concerns over how the advice of an unelected adviser and a federal minister had pushed the government into a corner in the Geo-ISI tiff.