Imran Khan, as chairman of the once-again on the rise political force Tehreek-e-Insaf, has invited Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) to join his party “because he had the courage to oppose the illegal authority of Maryam Nawaz in the ruling party.” Resultantly, Nisar’s “friend,” PMLN president and Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif, rushed to his house in Rawalpindi to persuade him not to jump ship.
No doubt, Shahbaz was cognizant of Nisar’s statement from last year: “The day the Supreme Court decides—whether it is in favor of Nawaz Sharif or against him—I have decided I will quit my ministry and I will also quit the National Assembly.” He fulfilled half of that pledge: he is out of the ministry but still attends National Assembly sessions. Perhaps he is just waiting to decide the best time to quit his party and join his “schoolfellow and friend” Imran Khan.
One can say that Nisar’s “friendship” with ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif came under strain when the latter manifested his first symptom of “ideological revisionism” that distanced his party from the Army. This strategic “revision” also divided the two Sharifs in government. Nisar pointedly kept his equation with Shahbaz Sharif alive while serving his “errant” elder brother. He has been hinting at quitting politics “after 33 years with Nawaz Sharif” but may have got the “signal” to join the other Khan, likely chosen to be the next ruler of Pakistan.
Last year, after a commission led by Justice Faez Isa blamed him for being soft on radicals after a Quetta massacre, Nisar fell to the lure of TV and ended up hurting himself as a bad communicator. He couldn’t defend himself against the charge that he kept meeting banned terrorist leaders of the dubious Defense of Pakistan Council (DFC) in his office when the prime minister thought his government was being targeted by them. In light of these circumstances, Nisar may find the “advice” to accept the invitation of the other Khan irresistible.