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I will Leave Ministry, NA on Panamagate Verdict Day: Nisar

Islamabad (July 27, 2017): Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Thursday said he was to resign from his post and the National Assembly but changed his mind after a couple of meetings with some friends.

According to the details, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar’s much-awaited press conference on Thursday was marked by the announcement that he will leave his ministry and the National Assembly on the day of the Panamagate verdict.

” I have decided I would resign whether decision is in favour of prime minister or against him, and I will not contest election again. i am done with politics ” he said while addressing what he said the most difficult press conference of his life to put the speculations about his “differences” with the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz to rest.

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Clarifying that he was not taking any extreme measure right now, “owing to the pressure of friends”, Nisar nonetheless said he would resign from his ministry and the National Assembly on the day the Supreme Court announces the Panamagate verdict — “be it for the party or against it.”

“My heart is no longer in politics,” he said.

At the start of the presser, Nisar remarked that it was the “most difficult” press conference I’ve ever hosted.

In his nearly 45-minute long speech, the interior minister talked about his 33-year association with the party, conspiracies within the ruling PML-N, and his disillusionment with politics.He concluded it with some sound parting advice to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whom he praised throughout as a “great and humble leader”.

He, however, said he is not leaving the party and would stand by Nawaz Sharif.

Nisar Ali Khan said the prime minister would have to keep his foot on the ground if the decision is in his favour.

“I am not angry, why would i be angry when my party leadership is in trouble,” he said. He, however, conceded that he was facing conspiracies and difficulties within the party.

Nisar Ali Khan said he had decided to make an extreme decision at a press conference on Sunday. “Had I announced the decision, they would have said i left in difficult time”. Is it insulting to say that I have been sidelined from consultative process.”He said he was the only person who always whispered in Sharif’s ear “Nawaz Sharif you are human”.

“Some of our friends and people from opposition had predicted Nisar Ali Khan wouldn’t leave the PML-N. I took these remarks for myself as an honour,” he said. “I dared to speak truth throughout my political career”.

“I want to clarify a lot of things because of the rumours circulating these days,” Nisar began. “I want to talk about the situation vis-a-vis the Panamagate case,” he said.

“I said in the cabinet meeting that it did not feel right saying these things, but there comes a time when certain things need to be said. Most of my colleagues are 20-25 junior, and I thought this may be a learning experience for them.”

“Some things were reported correctly about that meeting, some were not. I wanted to clarify what I said and bring on record some other things that I’ve always wanted to say.”

“I am not angry. This is a difficult time for the party and I’m not looking [at opportunities] anywhere else. Why would I do that after 33 years [of loyalty].”

However: “For the past month and a half, I was suddenly excluded from the PML-N’s cabinet meetings. I do not know why this was so. I was not invited to these consultative meetings and I do not attend if I’m not invited.”

“Some people said I’d missed the train. I don’t just get on any train,” he said. “I’ve been on this train since the very beginning; but yes, I’ve recently been a victim of internal intrigues. This was because I was close to the leadership and I spoke straight to people’s faces.”

Referring to a flurry of meetings with PML-N leaders ahead of his press conference, Nisar said: “I was told by senior leaders not to do this press conference today. I told them I had to,” he continued. “I had made a big decision, and I had to announce it.”

“I love this party. Mian Nawaz Sharif created it and grew it through a labour of love,” he said. “But I said this in the meeting, and I’ll say it again: when I look around me, the people who helped create this party are nowhere to be found. Some have left the party; some have left the world.”

He reiterated that: “Someone who gave 33 years to this party cannot leave it just like that; nobody believed this, and there is nothing bigger for me than this.”

“All my life, I’ve spoken the truth to Nawaz Sharif. There has never been any duplicity in my intentions. My role was the same as the whisperers who would tell the Roman Caesar: ‘Caesar you’re human’. I would be the same to Nawaz Sharif.”

“It pains me to say this, but when the PML-N faced its most difficult challenge, there was a conspiracy to remove me from the consultative process,” Nisar said, saying some people did not like what he said.

“I went to mian sahab three months ago and I told him that I have always given you the bad news. I have played the devil’s advocate. He said ‘I like this in you and you should continue speaking the truth.'”

“Yet this happened. I want to ask: ‘Why did you listen to these people?'” Nisar asked. “When I have never criticised anyone in the party, why was I critiqued like I was?” he added.
‘Never compromised on civilian supremacy’

Speaking on civil-military relations, Nisar said he had “never compromised on civilian supremacy” even though he had strong ties to the military.

“Ask any general if I’ve ever sought to sacrifice civilian rule for my personal political gains,” he said, in apparent reference to speculations and rumours that Nisar has always been ‘the army’s man’.

“I do whatever it takes to maintain civil-military relations for the sake of supremacy of civilian rule,” he said.

“Ask any military or intelligence leader if I’ve ever attempted to undermine the government for political gain.”

Clarifying that he was not taking any extreme measure right now, “owing to the pressure of friends”, Nisar nonetheless said he would resign from his ministry and the National Assembly on the day the Supreme Court announces the Panamagate verdict — “be it for the party or against it.”

“My heart is no longer in politics,” he said.

“I want to state unequivocally that I do not desire any position. My character is more important to me,” he said. “If the verdict goes against us, I will not say anything. Don’t expect me to,” he added.

“I want to tell Nawaz Sharif — if I was with you, I would tell you that if you are absolved in the Supreme Court, keep your feet on the ground. There will be those who will ask for heads for roll: I beseech you, you are a humble man, do not fall for this.”

“If the court decides against you: you are a well-loved man. This country and its people have given more to you than to anybody else. You have to behave with restraint, and you have to take the party forward. You need to ensure unity in the PML-N and you need to take it forward. Do not be angry; there are some who will want you to be angry.”

“The country is under severe threat. We are being surrounded. I know this, you know this and only two more people know this. You need to rise above only protecting yourself — you need to protect the entire country. You need to pick up the pieces — whether you win or you lose,” Nisar pleaded.

“I said this in the party meeting, and I’ll say it again: the Supreme Court’s decision should be accepted at all costs. If the apex court’s decision is not respected, it will be as if Pakistan is ruled by the law of the jungle.”

“Even if you lose, the country will remember you for having a big heart. Fight the political fight, but do not fall victim to conspiracies that seek to create more conflict,” Nisar said as he concluded.
PML-N in damage control

An interior ministry spokesperson, speaking on behalf of Chaudhry Nisar on Wednesday evening, had dismissed media reports stating that efforts were being made to placate the interior minister and that he was ‘angry’ with the PML-N leadership.

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“The truth is that the interior minister had adopted a contrary position on some important matters in the PML-N’s internal meetings, after which he was excluded from the consultative process,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said the interior minister is seeking an explanation for his exclusion from the PML-N’s meetings, and wants to know if the decision was made due to his opposing stance, or due to some other reason.

The interior ministry spokesperson further said that unless a clarification is provided, “it will be difficult to resolve problems in a positive manner.”

Nisar Ali Khan, who otherwise is considered an eloquent speaker, sparked confusion with his remarks which TV interpreted as his decision to quit politics.

Moments after the press conference, a spokesman for the ministry of interior explained that the minister is not going to quit. He said Nisar Ali Khan was referring to his earlier decision which he had subsequently changed.

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He addressed the press conference after a meeting with Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif, Finance minister Ishaq Dar and Railways Minister Kh Saad Rafique at the Punjab House in last-ditch efforts to placate him.

On Wednesday, a high-level delegation of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) met the estranged minister to get his proposed press conference cancelled.

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