Disgruntled PML-N stalwart Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Wednesday dismissed the rumours regarding his meeting with PTI chairman Imran Khan saying, "Neither has the PTI contacted me nor I have contacted them".
The former interior minister said the talk of his meeting with the PTI chief was nothing but "kite-flying". "The reality is what I have already mentioned. There has been no contact between us," he said while talking to DunyaNews.
The PTI has already denied the rumours of the meetings but had failed to address whether he was going to join the party.
When asked about whether he would contest the upcoming general elections on a PML-N ticket, Nisar said: "I think you should have asked this question from Mian Nawaz Sharif."
The former interior minister, who had resigned from the cabinet after developing differences with the party leadership last year, asserted that he was still a part of PML-N. He claimed that confusion in this regard began because of statements of "a person, who sits in his [Nawaz's] car, comes out and gives absurd statements and goes back in."
"I would be in a better position to share my stance only after Sharif clarifies whether that person in question does it on his [Sharif's] directions or not," he said.
Regarding his meetings with Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Nisar said he held so many meetings with Shabaz that "it is no news".
He repeated that the real issue right now was the narrative being played out by Nawaz and Maryam in their speeches and media talks. "It is portrayed as party narrative," Nisar said, adding that the party should first extensively debate about what its narrative should be.
"I am ready to work with the party irrespective of whether its name is changed to PML-S (Shahbaz) or something else, but a PML-MA (Mehmood Achakzai) would never be acceptable to me."
He said that the ideology of Muslim League was very different from that of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) chief Achakzai.
Answering a question, Nisar said he felt Nawaz going to jail would harm the party politically.
The widening gap
Talk of Nisar jumping ship started when PTI leaders, including Imran Khan himself, publicly invited the former interior minister to join the party following his public grievances with PML-N.
Nisar, who is still a member of the ruling PML-N, on more than one occasion has publicly expressed his disapproval over former premier Nawaz Sharif's confrontational statements regarding judiciary and the armed forces.
His differences with Nawaz's daughter Maryam have also been apparent, with the former saying that the latter's "sharp tongue" was driving the party towards a dead end. He has time and again made it clear that he would not work under the leadership of Maryam.
There is a common perception in the party that whenever Nisar passes any comment about Maryam, especially related to leading the party, he gets a sharp retort from someone associated with the Nawaz camp.
Last week, Nisar met PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif in the backdrop of recent bickering between him and Nawaz’s close aide Senator Pervaiz Rashid, who had declared that in the upcoming elections Nisar would not be awarded party ticket.
According to a PML-N insider, Nisar and Shahbaz had a discussion for more than three hours on party matters and the former's future role in the party.
“Shahbaz faces the daunting task of persuading his elder brother to have a one-on-one sitting with Nisar to iron out their differences. If he does not succeed, I am afraid Nisar will have to look for other political options,” a PML-N leader from Punjab had remarked.