PML-N stalwart Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Saturday made it clear that he will not stop speaking his mind — which has continued to ruffle some feathers in Nawaz Sharif's coterie — but also stated unequivocally that he was not jumping ship anytime soon.
In a press conference today, Nisar ruminated on his political present and future, stating: "I should clarify that I am not upset with the party. I have neither asked for anything from this party in the past, nor am I making any demands now.
"If I were upset with the party then, at the time of Sharif's disqualification, I could have very easily taken 40-45 MNAs [with me and left], but I did not because I have never played this game in my life. I am not a conspirator.
"Numerous MNAs came to me and they still do, but I always tell them to articulate their own views while remaining within the party.
"In every legislative move, I have always voted for the government," Nisar continued. "When the time came for Mian Nawaz Sharif's election [for party head], I voted in his favour. If I were so upset with him, would I have done that?
"More than that, in the Senate elections, I had major reservations regarding the candidates as four of our candidates were formerly with the Q League and Musharraf. There were four others who were staff officers and had nothing to do with politics. Yet I still went and voted for the party.
"So where have I been disloyal?" he asked. "People do everything for ministries, but I gave up my ministry so that my stance does not become a problem for them."
However, Nisar also made clear that he will not stop stepping on other people's toes.
"I have never left them but then it is also their responsibility to not leave others behind," he said. "I have always shouldered the political burden of Nawaz Sharif and the PML-N, but I am not the kind who carries the water for someone."
Nisar advises Sharif to break free from sycophants
Sharif, in a series of rallies recently, had claimed that the PML-N will be up against 'hidden forces' and 'celestial beings' in the upcoming general elections.
Nisar expressed his displeasure at those comments today, advising the former prime minister to break free from the ranks of the "sycophants" around him.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had echoed Sharif's sentiments regarding the alleged role of 'unseen forces' in the forthcoming polls.
Nisar said that the PM's role in furthering Sharif's stance "disappointed" him. "Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, as the prime minister, should have called the army chief, the DG ISI and DG MI [and sat them down for a meeting].
"If he has any details, he should have shared them and resolved this matter privately. I think the PM should call a National Security Council meeting if he has any evidence," he said, before admonishing his party's leaders for washing Pakistan's dirty linen in public.
The former interior minister also did not approve of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan's recent claim that the ruling PML-N had help from elements within Pakistan Army in the 2013 elections.
“What kind of message is sent to the world when we cry over our own matters like this,” he said, while acknowledging that "everybody knew" that the military establishment has had an "direct role and an indirect role" in influencing general elections in the past.
"The army doesn't do anything — it's leaders do," he observed at one point, before remarking that these are not matters that need to be discussed in public.
Nisar also discussed Khan's public invitation to him to jump ship and join his party.
"I am grateful to Imran Khan and other senior PTI leaders for inviting me," he said. "It is an honour for me. It is probably due to whatever stature I have in politics. I thank them for that.
"But as of right now I am in a party; but I will not remain in a party where there is no freedom of speech," he said.