WEB DESK: The only politician today who can generate prompt angry rebuttals interspersed with attacks on his sanity is Chaudhry Nisar, the Minister for Interior.
He holds a critical portfolio as terrorists continue to exact heavy casualties on our hapless citizens, law enforcement officials and the armed forces. The reason: his targeted verbal attacks in many instances and his equally vigorous counterattacks when the party, the party leader or he personally may have been the butt of an attack.
Several senior members of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) have in recent years referred to Chaudhry Nisar as the snake in the grass and urged the Prime Minister to get rid of him implying that he is damaging the party leadership by wilfully or un-willfully engaging in overt and/or covert plans to unseat the party leader and/or the party from government: overt by alienating the PPP by accusing its senior leaders of corruption and/or being complicit with those indicted for serious wrong doings (Dr Asim Hussain and Ayyan Ali) thereby compromising any ongoing dialogue towards reconciliation between the two parties; and covert by meeting with the chief of army staff to plot an in-house leadership change or convince his leadership to appoint a chief of army staff, reference to Musharraf’s appointment, who then launched a bloodless coup against Nawaz Sharif’s government.
The MQM and the ANP in the past have also maliciously attacked Chaudhry Nisar for his equally virulent attacks against their leadership, sadly on occasion rather personal. However the MQM senior leadership met with him this year in June to raise the issue of missing workers. Chaudhry Nisar has also over the years rebuked individual politicians including Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Mahmood Khan Achakzai, coalition partners of the incumbent PML-N government at present, for making statements in and outside the floor of the house against the armed forces and intelligence agencies.
The Interior Minister also has many detractors within the PML-N ranks; and while Khawaja Asif may not be a formidable foe in the party, the two men have publicly acknowledged that they have not spoken to each other for years, yet Khawaja Asif’s alliance with others and Chaudhry Nisar’s own reportedly abrasive personality have tended to isolate Chaudhry Nisar within the party.
Recent credible reports reveal that Ishaq Dar, the Prime Minister’s most trusted aide – be it due to their relationship by marriage or be it because Dar follows the Prime Minister’s instructions to the letter unlike the Minister of Interior – recently met with Asif Ali Zardari for 6 hours in Dubai which many maintain accounts for the departure of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari for Europe for an indefinite period leaving the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) movement on holding Nawaz Sharif accountable on the Panama papers in the lurch. Chaudhry Nisar’s press conference on Friday may have made some dents in the Dar-Zardari agreement though given the focus of the PPP leaders on attacking Chaudhry Nisar instead of the Prime Minister one may assume that the deal is not dead.
The Friday salvo by the Minister of Interior, coupled with several other examples in the past, have led to his detractors in the media to refer to him as a bull in a china shop who unleashes a fury that excludes no one. But as yet no financial or electoral scam has been unearthed against him unlike charges of mega scams against some of his accusers from the opposition as well as from members of the PML-N kitchen cabinet.
The question is why is he still retained in his position as the Minister for Interior? The reason may be embedded in Nawaz Sharif’s political strategy which has been to encourage the proliferation of camps within his kitchen cabinet and playing one camp against the other. In addition the Prime Minister has reportedly relied on Chaudhry Nisar together with Shahbaz Sharif to liaise with the army chief in an attempt to smooth acrimonious relations that have erupted from time to time.
More recently differences have erupted due to Nawaz Sharif’s decision to: (i) subordinate some national action plan (NAP) clauses to political compulsions – reference is to the non implementation of proposed NAP actions on madressahs or going after banned outfits who simply change their names; (ii) direct his coalition partners and/or some members of his own party (Khwaja Asif’s attacks earlier during the current tenure come to mind) to make anti-establishment remarks; in recent days post-Achakzai’s attack laying the blame for the Quetta attack on an intelligence failure compelled the Prime Minister, after the army’s reservations were made known to him, to defend the army in parliament while he directed his Minister of Interior to denigrate those who launched their verbal attacks against the army; and (iii) use Chaudhry Nisar, disliked by many parliamentarians on both sides of parliament, to counter attack while telling the opposition members that he has little or no control over the Interior Minister. However the Minister is a maverick at heart and does not always follow instructions prompting Imran Khan, the main opposition to PML-N government, to acknowledge that Chaudhry Nisar is not a darbari (courtier) who blindly carries out the dictates of his party leader.
Whatever the Minister of Interior’s standing with parliamentarians, few in this country do not lend credence to his charge sheets against party leaders – charge sheets premised on widely held perceptions. There are no challenges to his electoral win, unlike four senior members of the party including the Speaker of the national assembly, and he is credited with having done considerable development work for his constituents. And as aforesaid there are no allegations of mega-scams against him that make him rather a unique figure in our politics.
And yet one can fault him on three counts. First and foremost while he is right in pointing out that gains in terms of reducing terror attacks as well as improving the law and order situation in Karachi have been significant yet he needs to convince the Prime Minister that all proposals contained in NAP must be adhered to in letter and spirit; the Finance Ministry must ensure the required disbursements and the provinces ensure implementation of NAP.
In the event that the Ministry of Finance does not make the required disbursements or any province desists from implementing NAP then it is the Minister of Interior who should bring the matter to the cabinet for speedy resolution. And if Chaudhry Nisar continues to fail to do so then he needs to resign in protest.
Secondly, his vigorous defence of the party leader is based on the Sharif doctrine: accuse and attack the accusers and attackers even without proof, and defend the party leader again with or without proof. He needs to adhere to the doctrine of making statements after accessing proof from the ministry/departments under his administrative control.
And finally while taking account of ground realities – and the establishment’s inroads into several key areas of government is a ground reality – to try to convince the prime minister to take action or non-action (case of Musharraf’s departure from the country) on merit. Musharraf violated the constitution, is implicated in the May 12 massacre in Karachi, and should not have been allowed to go till he had cleared his name from the courts. That indeed would have been a greater service to the fledgling democracy in this country then in defending the prime minister.
Source: Business Recorder