ISLAMABAD: The PML-N headed by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif sprang a surprise on Thursday by disowning a statement made by his party’s stalwart Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and agreeing to an investigation by the FIA into the dirty money the ISI used in 1990 elections. The probe had been ordered by the Supreme Court in its short order in the Asghar Khan case.
In an apparent damage control exercise following widespread criticism of Chaudhry Nisar’s statement that the PML-N had “reservations” over the SC decision to hand over investigations to the Federal Investigation Agency, Mr Nawaz Sharif told a TV talk show anchor on telephone that this was not the view of his party.
“There is no question of rejecting (the FIA probe) as it is the court order,” Mr Sharif said when asked to state categorically whether the FIA probe was acceptable to him.
Chaudhry Nisar had told reporters last week that his party wanted the investigation by an “independent commission” and not by the FIA.
“I say on behalf of my party in categorical terms that we accept the SC decision in letter and spirit and are ready to cooperate, but probe through the FIA is totally unacceptable,” he had declared.
Interestingly, the PML-N’s Information Secretary Mushahidullah Khan was present at the news conference.
When contacted, PML-N’s Deputy Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal said Chaudhry Nisar’s news conference was his “spontaneous act” and he had only “suggested an improvement” in the SC order by saying that an independent commission be formed to investigate allegations against politicians, including Nawaz Sharif, of having received money from the ISI prior to the 1990 elections.
Mr Iqbal, whose party was a part of the nine-party Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) which had been fully supported by the then military establishment in 1990 elections in a bid to defeat the Pakistan People’s Party, said it was after Chaudhry Nisar’s news conference that the party leadership had gone into a consultative session in Raiwind and decided to come out with a categorical announcement that it was ready to face the FIA.
Mr Iqbal said there was consensus within the party that it should accept the court’s verdict as a whole because any objection to any part of it would generally be seen as negation of the verdict by the PML-N and provide an opportunity to opponents to use it in their propaganda.
His reply was a “no”, when asked if the party still demanded formation of an independent inquiry commission. In an effort to give an impression that there were no two opinions within the party on the issue, Mr Iqbal claimed that Chaudhry Nisar had made no “formal demand” and “it was just his observation”.
In fact, he said, Chaudhry Nisar had drawn the attention to the “poor performance” of the FIA and the SC had expressed its reservations over it several times.
It may be recalled that the PML-N became a target of criticism from all sides, particularly from the PPP and the PTI, after it announced that it was not ready to face the FIA probe.
The government immediately rejected the PML-N’s demand to form a commission to hold an inquiry, and Federal Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira asked the Sharif brothers to apologise to President Asif Ali Zardari and the nation for “robbing the PPP’s mandate in the 1990 elections”.
Mr Kaira said it was the Supreme Court and not the government which called for investigation through the FIA against the politicians who had received money from intelligence agencies in the 1990 elections.
Mr Kaira, who is also information secretary of the ruling PPP, had also expressed the hope that the Supreme Court would take notice of the PML-N’s announcement. He had also said that action against those involved in misusing public money would soon be initiated in accordance with the law and constitution.