The most mercurial member of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s cabinet on Saturday stated categorically that no political objectives could be attained through confrontations with the judiciary or the military.
“Better coordination with both the judiciary and military is the only option in the current situation, where conspiracies are being hatched against the country,” Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told a private TV channel.
In an interview with Saleem Safi of Geo News — the first part of which was aired on Saturday — the former interior minister said “paani sar ke bohat qareeb hai” (the tide has risen to dangerous levels) when asked if matters had come to a head.
Regarding the Panama Papers controversy, he said he was against the advice of a few people in the party who wanted to adopt a confrontational path.
Ex-minister advises his party to mend fences with army, judiciary; says he differed with Nawaz over policy matters
Conceding that he had differences with former prime minister Nawaz Sharif because of the latter’s policies, he said there were some people in the PML-N who wished for a confrontation with state institutions.
He said his relationship with Mr Sharif dated back to 1985, and that until 2013, nobody knew about any differences between the two. “The majority of my differences [with former PM] were over policies. I felt that I was intentionally kept away from consultations.” He claimed that he had never disclosed his issues with the party or Mr Sharif publicly. “Those who leaked it did so dishonestly.”
“Politics, especially governance, is both an art and a science,” he said, adding that in his time with Nawaz Sharif, he had “always tried to manage things”.
He said he believed that the military had no role in the disqualification of Mr Sharif, and when asked if he could play a role to pacify the situation between state institutions and his party, he stated: “This would not only be better for the party, but for Nawaz Sharif and everyone else.”
Talking about the foreign pressure mounting against Pakistan, he said it was the collective responsibility of every stakeholder to put aside their differences and create a “broad consensus” for a joint and united front against all threats.
Talking about criticism of his remarks about Hakimullah Mehsud’s death in a drone strike, Chaudhry Nisar contradicted his critics, saying that he had merely criticised the US for derailing the dialogue process with the Taliban.
He said Pakistan had taken the US and other “friendly countries” into confidence before initiating talks with the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan. “It was an incorrect perception that the army was not on board. The army was on board.”
Referring to his house arrest during Nawaz Sharif’s time in exile, he said 24 soldiers surrounded his residence, and dispelled the impression that he received preferential treatment due to his family’s military background and connections. “How do you compensate someone who has lost 2 years of his life?” he asked, recalling how Gen Musharraf and his aides tried to get him to join their government.
He also claimed that the Ayyan Ali case was not handled by the interior ministry, but the finance ministry.
Dawn reached out to several PML-N leaders for their reaction to Chaudhry Nisar’s remarks, but none of those contacted was willing to comment, saying they did not want to get entangled in controversy.