Aggrieved PML-N leader Chaudhry Nisar, who is contesting the upcoming elections as an independent candidate, on Wednesday disassociated himself from other independent candidates in Punjab who have decided to contest the polls on the ‘jeep’ symbol.
Nisar’s latest press conference comes after some PML-N ticket holders in South Punjab returned their party tickets and announced their intent to contest as independents on the ‘jeep’, which he is also using to contest on two provincial and two National Assembly seats in Rawalpindi.
A day earlier, Maryam Nawaz had alleged that “the symbol of jeep is becoming the symbol of khalayi makhlooq” ─ a reference to the ‘invisible forces’ that Nawaz Sharif has blamed for his ouster.
“As Mian sahab had said, it should be found out how people are being forcefully brought off from the lion symbol and being made to climb the jeep,” Maryam had tweeted, adding that that every vote for the jeep is a vote for ‘aliens’.
Nisar, while speaking to the media in Taxila today, dismissed the impression that the ‘jeep’ had been imposed on him, or that he had asked the other candidates to apply for the symbol, clarifying that only three of his close aides were aware of the decision.
He also explained that his application for the symbol was submitted just an hour before the end of the deadline to avoid opponents applying for similar symbols which could confuse his voters. “Those [others] contesting on the jeep symbol should be questioned about it,” he said.
Discussing his differences with Nawaz, he said that that the PML-N quaid should make clear which of his statements had hurt him. Nisar added that his only intention in advising Nawaz against collision with institutions was so he could avoid making more enemies as he was already in trouble.
The former interior minister said that he had supported the party, even after resigning from the ministry, whenever it needed his support. He claimed that he had convinced 35 MNAs who did not want to vote for the Elections Act 2017 — which allowed Nawaz to take the reigns of the party back after his disqualification — to vote in its favour.
He also said that he wanted to give his response on many occasions especially when Nawaz gave his statements on Bangladesh leader Sheikh Mujibur Rehman being a patriot and 26/11 Mumbai attacks but chose to only give a measured response on the latter which clarified the position of the then interior ministry.
Raising questions over who was actually running the PML-N, he said that a statement by Shahbaz — the party president — on the need to form a national government was refuted by “an unknown spokesperson” as not being the official party stance.
Criticising the PML-N giving Senate tickets to former PML-Q members and reserved seats being given to family members of key party leaders, Nisar said: “The PML-N will not remain the party it has been in the past 30-32 years if important questions are not asked [from within].”
“While there are a number of benefits of having free media, there are also some hazards,” Nisar said, adding that he had been misquoted by some channels. However, he chose to lay the blame for being misquoted not on the media but “some people who use media to give the wrong impression”.