The return of Nisar

There is intense speculation over any winds of change in Punjab government. This has gained traction after the imminent return of former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and the formation of Jehangir Tareen’s like-minded group.

Chaudhry Nisar is set to take oath as Punjab Assembly MPA after nearly three years. He said that leaving the political turf was a mistake but he won’t change his stance regarding the political situation. The timing of Nisar’s return has gained interest. The government is set to pass a law disqualifying those who fail to oath within sixty days after being elected. But is Nisar returning to prevent himself from losing the seat or is there a greater political game on the cards?

Nisar had a fallout of PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif after the Panama Papers scandal and both have not reconciled. He contested the 2018 general election as an independent candidate on two National Assembly seats and two provincial assembly seats after developing differences with the Sharifs. He managed to win only one MPA seat in Rawalpindi but refused to take oath neither did he give up the seat.

It is also uncertain what role Nisar would play after being sworn in and whether his allegiance will remain with the PML-N. He had a 35-year long association with the party and was considered one of the most prominent stalwarts. It needs to be seen how he would be welcomed in the Punjab Assembly where the PTI-led government is currently in power. Will he receive a cold shoulder from the PML-N or warmly welcomed? It is certain that he would be a backbencher in the provincial assembly.

For Nisar, being a member of the Punjab Assembly is certainly a demotion. After his estrangement with Sharif, it was reported that he was approached by Imran Khan and was even offered a prominent role in Punjab government which he declined. Now his sudden return from political exile at a time when Buzdar’s government is in the doldrums has gained intense speculation. The formation of Tareen’s group and Shehbaz Sharif’s release are seen as indicators that trouble is brewing for the Punjab government. Or is it merely a desperate attempt by Nisar to revive his political career and regain importance.

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