Decision to travel to Lahore via motorway was taken at party meeting: Nisar hits back at Nawaz's remark
Former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has hit back at the veiled suggestion by a PML-N leader that he had recommended former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to take the motorway to Lahore as part of his homecoming rally following his disqualification last year.
In a statement issued through his spokesman on Wednesday, Nisar responded to a video tweeted by Maryam Nawaz a day earlier showing PML-N members demonstrating party spirit and expressing solidarity with their leader Nawaz Sharif at a meeting.
In an impassioned speech addressed to the former prime minister, State Minister for Interior Talal Chaudhry can be heard saying in the video: "You revised your decision to take the motorway to go to Lahore. It was a turning point when you decided to take GT road for the journey."
At this, Nawaz asked: "Where are these people who suggested that we travel via the motorway?"
Amidst chuckles, party members quipped that those behind the recommendation will not be found at this gathering to which Nawaz said, "If you are sitting here then please raise your hand."
Amused by the situation, Nawaz mockingly said that one person had even advised him to take a flight from Rawalpindi to Lahore.
Before Nawaz decided to take the Grand Trunk Road for his procession towards Lahore in August 2017, media reports had claimed that Nisar wanted Nawaz to travel via the motorway and hold the rally only in Lahore.
Although he was not named during the video clip, Nisar apparently took personal affront to the suggestion that he had recommended the motorway route for the rally, clarifying that Nawaz's decision to travel to Lahore via the motorway had been taken in a meeting of senior party leadership.
The meeting, held in Murree, was attended by senior party leaders including Nawaz and Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.
Nisar said that a majority of the party members had advised taking the motorway to Lahore. It had been decided during the meeting that a welcome ceremony would be held at every interchange, and a grand final welcome would take place upon entering Lahore, he said.
"The decision is on record and news on the Murree meeting has been published as well," the statement said, adding that the decision to go via the motorway was taken due to security reasons.
The subsequent decision to take the GT Road instead of the motorway was not taken on the advice of any politician. In fact, Nisar explained, a media delegation headed by Mujeebur Rehman Shami had recommended that Nawaz opt for the GT Road for his journey to Lahore.
He stated that the former premier had then asked him to convince Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif about the new route plan and that upon being contacted by Nisar, Shahbaz had agreed to the idea of entering Lahore via GT Road.
"Colouring such a straightforward decision [about taking GT Road instead of motorway] with the crafty use of video clips is very unfortunate," the statement quoted Nisar as saying.
Regarding Nawaz's remark about the suggestion to fly to Lahore, the former interior minister said that it was something only Nawaz himself can comment on, and that no one had made such a suggestion during the Murree gathering.
He was of the view that it would be better if that individual's identity was revealed so that an "unnecessary dramatic element" could be eliminated from the situation that appeared to be sidelining the main matter in question, which was Nawaz's return to Lahore.
PML-N's victory only in Nawaz's return: Talal
In the video shared by Maryam Nawaz, Talal Chaudhry further says the ultimate victory of the PML-N was in the return of Nawaz to power.
"Many people are saying that we will win [the election] with a two-thirds majority... but all these things can only be attributed to partial success," Chaudhry says.
"Mian Nawaz Sharif, the success of not just N-League, but our party's stance, is in your return and nothing else," he adds to applause from party members.
"Good governance is that in which the people's mandate is translated properly and it can only be translated when you have been given powers and the people who should stand with you are not the ones pulling your legs."
Chaudhry said everyone, "including some of our own", had tried to derail Nawaz in the last 4-5 months but he had persevered because of his "courage and prayers of the entire country".
"Our victory lies in your return and your return alone," he concluded.