While announcing that he has forgone his personal differences with veteran PPP Senator Aitzaz Ahsan ‘for the sake of democracy’, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan offered a probe into the allegations levelled against him by the PPP leader.
“My personal feelings about the episode are not important,” he said, adding that protecting democracy in Pakistan was much more important. “I have decided to let go of yesterday’s events, keeping my dignity aside,” he said while referring to Senator Aitzaz’s fiery speech in the joint session of the Parliament on Friday.
The interior minister said Aitzaz’s allegations should be turned into an FIR. “Even if there is an iota of truth in these allegations, I will quit politics, let alone resigning from the [interior] ministry,” Nisar told a news conference at the Punjab House.
The interior minister made a short statement before the media but did not take any questions, apparently to avoid further controversy. He announced that he has forgiven what was said against him by the PPP leaders on the floor of the National Assembly.
He proposed a tribunal or committee of former judges to investigate the allegations against him and his deceased brother, former defence secretary Lt Gen (retd) Chaudhry Iftikhar. “[For this purpose] A tribunal of judges of Aitzaz’s choosing may be formed now or after the current political turmoil settles down,” he said. Nisar and Aitzaz have traded serious allegations, sparking a controversy at a time when a joint sitting of the parliament was convened to forge unity among all political parties against the protest sit-ins of the PTI and PAT in Islamabad.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had apologised to Aiztaz after Nisar accused him of being a lawyer of land mafia and of landing lucrative LPG gas deals from favourable quotas. In a tit-for-tat move, Aiztaz and his fellow party lawmaker Syed Khurshid Shah accused Nisar of being a traitor in the ruling PML-N.
Aitzaz also alleged that Nisar’s brother, Lt Gen Iftikhar – who was defence secretary in 1999 – had not issued notification when then prime minister Nawaz Sharif replaced then army chief General Pervez Musharraf with General Ziauddin. The delay, Aitzaz claimed, had led to military takeover by Musharraf.
PPP leaders hailed Nisar’s press conference and said things should settle down now. “Nisar has shown maturity. It would have been better if all this had not happened,” said PPP Secretary Information Qamar Zaman Kaira. He hoped Aitzaz would also show positive gesture after Nisar’s press conference.
Talking to a private TV channel, Aitzaz said he appreciated the way Chaudhry Nisar talked about reconciliation and said he would have kept quiet if Nisar had not called his politics a business.
Aitzaz also advised the media not to discuss the matter any further. He said that after his reconciliation with Nisar the plan-D of the agitators had failed. He claimed that the PTI and the PAT were pursuing a four-pronged plot to dislodge the incumbent government, though none of those worked out. “The plan-D was currently being pursued but it could not work following reconciliation between me and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar. Let us see what will be plan-E,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 7th, 2014.