ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan has advised Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the estranged leader of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N), to join his party before the next general elections.

“It will be good if Chaudhry Nisar joins the PTI,” Mr Khan said during a chat with reporters at his Banigala residence on Sunday, a day after the PML-N leader admitted he had some differences with PML-N chief and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and also categorically declared that he would not work under the leadership of Maryam Nawaz or Hamza Shahbaz.

“And if Chaudhry Nisar decides to contest the elections as an independent candidate, we may support him,” the PTI chief said when his comments were sought on the former interior minister’s recent press conference.

Talking to reporters in Taxila on Saturday, Chaudhry Nisar had stated that he was waiting for the party’s decision about him and after that he would announce his future plans.

This is not for the first time Imran Khan expressed his desire to see the PML-N stalwart in his party as previously during his 120-day sit-in in Islamabad in 2014, he had also stated that Chaudhry Nisar would be welcomed to the PTI.

Former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar had been sidelined by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif due to his opposition to the party’s policy of confronting the judiciary and the army during the hearing of the Panama Papers case first before a joint investigation team and then the Supreme Court.

The anti-Nisar group within the PML-N believes that he has sympathetic feelings for his old friend Imran Khan and in their private conversations, they allege that as interior minister he had facilitated the PTI by allowing it to enter Red Zone and stage a sit-in. They also criticise Chaudhry Nisar’s role as the interior minister at the time of the formation of the JIT under a senior FIA official that probed the Sharif family members on charges of money laundering in the wake of Panama Papers leaks.

Despite having differences with the party leadership, Chaudhry Nisar on the other hand has many a time stated that he has no intention to quit the party or to join any other party.

Imran Khan claimed that soon after the installation of the caretaker government, a number of PML-N members would quit the party. He said that it seemed that the elections would be held on time.

The cricketer-turned-politician alleged that it was Intelligence Bureau (IB) headed by a “personal servant” of the Sharifs which leaked information about his private life.

In reply to a question, the PTI chief said that his party had an alliance with Maulana Samiul Haq and if the party would have some “additional votes” in the Senate elections, these votes could be polled to him.

Mr Khan accused both the PPP and the PML-N of spending money to get the office of the chairman of the Senate. He said his party had reservations over the role of the Election Commission of Pakistan.

He also criticised Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif and declared him a security risk for the country.

Published in Dawn, February 12th, 2018

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