ISLAMABAD: Government officials have dismissed recent media reports about the interior minister’s differences with the leadership of the ruling party as a ‘guessing game’ and ‘speculation’. However, Chaudhry Nisar confirmed on Wednesday that he had been ‘excluded’ from party consultations after he voiced dissenting views over ‘some issues’.
A spokesperson for the interior ministry sought to dismiss media reports stating that efforts were ongoing to placate the interior minister and that he is angry with the PML-N leadership.
“The truth is that he [Nisar] had a stance over some issues which he expressed in an internal meeting of the party [PML-N] after which he was excluded from the consultative process,” the spokesperson said in a statement on Wednesday.
He went on to say that the interior minister was seeking an explanation for his exclusion from the PML-N meetings, and “wants to know if the decision was made due to his opposing stance, or due to some other reason”. “Unless a clarification is provided, it will be difficult to resolve problems in a positive manner.”
The rare statement that lends credence to reports about a disagreement between Nisar and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif came hours after a meeting between Nisar and three other PML-N stalwarts – Shehbaz Sharif, Ishaq Dar and Khawaja Saad Rafique.
The meeting took place in the wake of Nisar’s announcement to hold a press conference on July 24 (Monday). This presser, which was later postponed due to Nisar’s ‘indisposition’, was greatly anticipated as there were reports that the interior minister was going to critcise his own party’s policy.
Sources say the party stalwarts have tried to talk him out of his plans assuring him that his reservations regarding being left out in important decision-making at the party-level would be addressed.
The marathon meeting, which continued for four-and-a-half hours, was held at the Punjab House. Even though another session is expected between the PML-N leaders soon, a party source claims Wednesday’s meeting was ‘successful’.
A source earlier claimed that Nisar would not postpone his presser but would avoid targeting the party’s top cadres. Nisar told the PML-N leaders that he was not angry because it wasn’t he who had started the confrontation, according to the source.
Of late, media reports claimed that Nisar was not happy with the government’s handling of the Panamagate case that involves Premier Sharif and his family.
The Supreme Court has reserved its judgment in the Panamagate case as opposition parties have stepped up pressure on the prime minister to step down and bring in another member of his party to replace him in the Prime Minister House.
Publicly, the ruling party has rebuffed the opposition’s demand, saying Sharif would never resign. However, media reports suggest the ruling party has already started a headhunt for a possible replacement of Sharif in case the Supreme Court disqualifies him in the Panamagate case.
Ayaz Sadiq, Khawaja Asif, Ahsan Iqbal and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi are said to be the possible hopefuls for the coveted slot – though for a brief period because in the end Shehbaz Sharif might be brought in as prime minister because currently he cannot be considered for the position as he is not a member of parliament.