He came, he saw and he returned — without taking the oath. Yes, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan arrived at the Punjab Assembly amid quite a fanfare to swear in as MPA but failed to do so due to the “unavailability of the Speaker and his Deputy”. The unavailability of both constitutional-office holders was, however, as strange as Nisar’s sudden decision to take oath nearly three years after his election. What is, however, rumoured is that the seasoned politician has been chosen to lead a change at the helm of political affairs in Punjab, and the refusal to administer the oath to him came as part of efforts to thwart the intended change.
While Nisar has announced taking a legal course over being denied the oath-taking, a few legal petitions themselves await him in the courts. According to reports, two petitions have already been filed in the Lahore High Court and three in the LHC’s Rawalpindi bench on the issue of Nisar’s oath. Besides, the government is reportedly mulling over preempting Nisar’s legal move by promulgating an ordinance, de-seating those members of elected houses who haven’t taken oath of their respective offices within a stipulated time. The political tussle is thus all set to grow intense in the coming days.
Nisar had, meanwhile, avoided taking oath after being elected MPA from PP-10 (Rawal¬pindi-V) in the 2018 elections. It was the only seat that the one-time Pindi powerhouse won out of four he contested — two Punjab Assembly and two NA seats. The election was illustrative of the decline of Nisar’s political fortunes: he had been a constant feature in the lower house since 1985. His close family ties to the establishment also made him a vital go-between and adviser for the PML-N.
That all, however, fell apart in 2017 and 2018, amid the ouster of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. But despite running as an independent after his differences with the party and refusal to join the PTI after leaving the PML-N, no one expected Nisar to be voted out. Still, he did win a ‘lower’ seat, and it was disappointing for thousands of voters that he refused to do the job they voted him in for. He now says that he will be doing just that, and to top it off, he won’t take a salary or avail any perks.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 25th, 2021.