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July 6, 2014

Inside story of why Nisar was angry

July 6, 2014

ISLAMABAD: At least five crucial factors caused deep exasperation to Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, forcing him to stay away from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for weeks, but their old affiliation and rapport stood largely revived after their meeting in Lahore on Saturday.
“Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif mainly did the firefighting, a role he often plays to defuse tough and tense situations for the government and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), and worked hard to check the downslide,” a senior cabinet member told The News, requesting anonymity.
He said that it was only the chief minister, who was in a position to arrange such a session after persuading the prime minister and Chaudhry Nisar to reconcile their differences, and nobody else has the clout to do such a trick.
Because of their old friendship and tremendous understanding, Shahbaz Sharif wanted complete participation and reactivation of the interior minister, abandoning his attitude to side home with a sullen face. Knowledgeable people know that they always remarkably share views on major issues, which are, at times, at variance with some other members of the federal cabinet including even the prime minister.
The cabinet member said that it was basically the turf war, among other things, that left the interior minister hurt and marginalized, and he chose to sideline himself out of sheer anger. The other group proved to be too overpowering.
While he was already quite dejected and uneasy over his position in important government affairs, he suspected a health problem and had to undergo angiography, which, however, cleared him from heart trouble. This slowed down his movements for some time.
Credible official quarters never gave a serious thought to the speculation that Chaudhry Nisar was on the verge of saying adieu to the Sharif brothers. “In the past too, they had serious differences, but they never parted company. Their politics is closely interlinked with

each other,” said one of them.
Chaudhry Nisar felt frustrated and aggravated primarily because he was not consulted by the prime minister in important areas that required his input, opinion and complete involvement.
The hawkish cabinet elements came close to Nawaz Sharif, pushing away the doves like Chaudhry Nisar, which upset and annoyed the interior minister.
The hardliners were kept at an arm’s length when talks were initiated with the Taliban, and Chaudhry Nisar was calling the shots.
But when the decision to launch the military operation was taken, the hawks prevailed and the interior minister was not even consulted, which tremendously angered him.
“As the interior minister continuously felt irrelevant even in the spheres where he was to be involved, he was perturbed,” another cabinet member said.
In his capacity of leader of opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar used to alk to the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government to sort out major issues. He was then the main point man of the Sharif brothers simply because of their confidence he enjoyed.
However, after the reversal of roles, the PPP is not ready to discuss any matter with the interior minister. Therefore, Nawaz Sharif had to bring in an acceptable person like Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to do this job. He now mainly discusses with the opposition different matters.
It was impossible for Chaudhry Nisar to stomach peripheral position in the government as well as key decision-making process due to his track record that has always placed him as the next man to the prime minister in the informal order of precedence. For the past few months, he was not at all enjoying this kind of standing and his position was fundamentally marginal. It can’t go for a long time when it comes to a person like Chaudhry Nisar. As Shahbaz Sharif and Chaudhry Nisar are known for having completely similar views on all important and sensitive issues, which are, at times, even in conflict with those of the prime minister, the combine had pressed for allowing retired General Pervez Musharraf to go abroad, extricating him from the high treason trial, after his indictment for the grave offence, but their opinion did not impress the boss. At the time, the hawks had also prevailed. “This continuously kept the interior minister upset because he had the strong conviction that Musharraf’s trial would keep creating problems for the government and continue marring its relations with the Pakistan Army,” the cabinet member said. “Not only he but Shahbaz Sharif also wanted to get rid of this ‘unnecessary irritant’ in any case. However, the hawks did not pay heed to this call.”
The Chaudhry Nisar-Shahbaz Sharif duo had always been playing the role of a bridge between the army and civilian leaderships, and it cherishes this function. They had held many meetings with Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, when he was the army chief. They always worked to remove misgivings, if any, between the two sides. However, this job is now being performed by Shahbaz Sharif alone and the chief minister is not taking Chaudhry Nisar along for different reasons, the main relating to the appointment of Kayani’s replacement.
Informed circles say that the actual distance between Nawaz Sharif and Chaudhry Nisar was created after the relations between the security establishment and the government were marred. “No doubt, the prime minister and Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif enjoy complete understanding,” said one of them.
When certain cabinet members, considered close to the prime minister, were speaking, rather aggressively, on the khaki-mufti relations during the past few weeks (with this phase now being over), Chaudhry Nisar was found saying things clashing with their assertions.
The two sides were virtually engaged in a cold war. Hawkish elements have the blessings and backing of the prime minister.
Those knowing Chaudhry Nisar for decades say that although he is a very sharp and shrewd politician, he has a special kind of temperament and personality that he universally shows to all and sundry regardless of their status and standing. In the words of one of his colleagues, he also does have “much PR” everywhere.
During the efforts for reconciliation, one of the hawks, Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq, made it a point to have a lengthy session with Chaudhry Nisar to change his mind. But the other hardliner, Defence and Energy Minister Khawaja M Asif did not join these efforts.

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