ISLAMABAD: In a surprising development, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan stirred up a controversy on Thursday with a frontal attack on PPP leader Aitzaz Ahsan, accusing him of using the name of the late Benazir Bhutto for business interests and personal gains and being a facilitator of the biggest land mafia in the country.
The charges levelled at Senator Ahsan at what appears to be an inopportune time for the government immediately prompted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to take damage control measures. They separately called Mr Ahsan and the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, Syed Khursheed Shah, to apologise over the remarks.
Mr Shah advised them to ask the interior minister not to create tension at a time when the opposition was trying to end the impasse between the government and the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Pakistan Awami Tehreek.
Senater Ahsan himself said he would come up with a befitting reply in the joint session of Parliament on Friday. A spokesman for Khursheed Shah said the Leader of the Opposition told the Sharif brothers that the PPP could have come up with an appropriate response, but chose not to vitiate the atmosphere.
The interior minister had said that Mr Ahsan treated politics as business.
“I know where he is speaking from. He is a representative and facilitator of the biggest land mafia in the country,” Chaudhry Nisar remarked.
“I have no respect for a person like him. Right from the LPG quota to using planes of a particular mafia, there is a contradiction in his words and deeds,” he said.
In a recent speech in the joint session of Parliament, Mr Ahsan had endorsed the allegations of rigging in last year’s general elections levelled by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf.
He accused the federal and Punjab governments of mishandling the situation in Model Town and said police wanted to remove barriers from outside the residence of Pakistan Awami Tehreek chief Dr Tahirul Qadir, but they were ordered to block several roads with containers.
Published in Dawn, September 5th, 2014