Former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said on Saturday he has made it clear that he would not serve in the ruling PML-N under the leadership of "juniors" — a reference to Maryam Nawaz who is widely tipped to assume the mantle of the party in the future.
When questioned at a press conference in Taxila about his previous remark that Maryam lacked the experience to lead PML-N, Nisar in turn asked whether he had said anything wrong at the time.
"You tell me, can I work under children?" he said in a reference to Maryam, adding that "a person has some dignity." He added that if such situation arises where he is asked to serve under a junior, he will take a decision once it happens.
When pressed again whether he would accept Maryam as the party's new supremo, Nisar said there were many senior leaders in PML-N who could be considered to lead the party.
"Why are you stuck with Maryam and Hamza [Shahbaz Sharif]?" he asked a reporter, before saying,"I can work under a senior but I cannot work under a junior. I am not a political orphan that I refer to a junior as 'sir' and 'madam'."
Irked by the barrage of questions about Maryam, Nisar said in a lighter vein: "Next time there is a presser here, please post a board above saying that it is forbidden to take Maryam Nawaz's name in this [press conference]."
He, however, emphasised that he had no differences with the elder Sharifs, and would be ready to work under either Nawaz, Shahbaz, or Prime Minister Abbasi.
'Not alone in saying confrontation with judiciary is not wise'
The former interior minister said there is no difference of opinion among PML-N party leaders that confrontation with the higher judiciary of the country is not a wise idea.
Nisar said, however, that difference exists within the party on the "execution" of the policy, adding: "This difference [about confrontation with the judges] has grown deeper and serious. I want to resolve it through dialogue."
The senior PML-N leader stressed he was not alone in advocating a policy of non-confrontation with the judiciary, saying that Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif propagate the same.
Nisar said that it is common knowledge that he has been a "devil's advocate" to his party chief Nawaz Sharif and the advice that he presented at a meeting of the federal cabinet last year is also well known.
"When you launch personal attacks on judges it is wrong and I pointed that out," Nisar said. He said he hadn't criticised Sharif or his outspoken daughter Maryam Nawaz over their criticism of the judiciary, before asking, "Am I being a hypocrite?"
Nisar said only the upcoming general elections will decide who becomes the prime minister of the country. He also announced during the presser that he has decided to remain active within the party.
'Society is degrading'
Nisar said at the press conference that the Pakistani society is heading towards degradation and that media has had a role in promoting slander and exchange of abuses on a routine basis.
"Media is supposed to give news, not act as judge," he said, adding that media's role is being compromised because certain sections in it are passing judgements.
Nisar said politicians accuse others of being corrupt but don't look at themselves. "It is made worse when media takes sides."
"If there are differences within a family or tribe they sit together to resolve them," he said, adding that it should be the same with political parties.
Nisar said it has been months since the Central Executive Committee (CEC) of the party was formed but there has only been one meeting. He said he had proposed during the meeting that the only way to resolve differences was through "dialogue, dialogue and dialogue".