ISLAMABAD - Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif yesterday expressed his annoyance over mishandling Faizabad sit-in, which had finally brought the government down to its knees.

In a meeting with party activists and leaders at the Punjab House, he asked Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal tough questions about failure of the operation against the protesters.

Sources aware of the deliberations in the meeting informed The Nation that initially Ahsan said that the Islamabad administration had launched the operation on the direction of the Islamabad High Court and he was not taken into the loop.

But when Nawaz Sharif further pressed him on the issue, Ahsan Iqbal kept silent and simply said that he would privately brief him on the whole episode, and reveal how those protesters came there and from where they were getting the support.

A day after the failure of the law enforcement agencies operation against Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah activists, Federal Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal in a media chat had put the blame of operation’s failure on Commissioner Islamabad and said that he was not even consulted on it.

However, the insiders in the government confirmed that Ahsan Iqbal was fully involved in the exercise and himself was taking input on the operation for the whole day till the time Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javid Bajwa had stepped in and advised Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to stop use of force and resolve the issue through negotiations.

Nawaz Sharif seemed unsatisfied over all what had happened throughout the TLYR sit-in and asked the interior minister to furnish a detailed report on it so that a foolproof strategy could be evolved to avoid such fiascos in future.

Sources said that Nawaz Sharif was also critical of the government move of private television channels blackout on the operation day, which actually backfired and triggered violent protests across the country, particularly in the Punjab, as it was widely perceived that security forces were brutalising the protesters.

In his address to the attendants, the ousted premier once again seemed defiant on his disqualification that he said came on extremely flimsy grounds.

He reiterated his narrative of conspiracy and said that in the 70-year history of the country, elected premiers faced disqualifications, hangings and were forced into exile, impeding the progress of Pakistan.

Nawaz said that the people of Pakistan and party workers were standing with him and they would jointly steer the country out of crises and put it on fast-track development.

Referring to the obstacles and hurdles created in the way of political governments, which mainly culminated at the forced removal of elected governments in the past, Nawaz Sharif said that all this resulted in backward drive of the national economy and weakening of state institutions.

He said that the countries could only flourish and progress under democracies, and he had firm belief that the future of Pakistan was also in strong and vibrant democracy, which he vowed to establish with the support of the people of Pakistan, and the PML-N workers and activists.

Nawaz Sharif once again talked about taking the political forces in the country along and once again sought the help of all political parties in bringing about real change in the country and redefining the rules of the game.

The former premier urged the PML-N workers to put up joint struggle with other parliamentary parties to strengthen democracy in Pakistan.

The former premier also had informal meetings with party leaders at the Punjab House, where issues relating to Faizabad sit-in, reasons behind the lacklustre operation against the handful of protesters and then a drop scene of bowing down to the protesters accepting all their demands came under discussion.

Those who attended the informal meeting at the Punjab House included Minister of State for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb, Maryam Nawaz, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, State Minister Daniyal Aziz, Senator Asif Kirmani, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Musadik Malik, Islamabad Mayor Sheikh Anser, Parliamentary Secretary Capital Administration and Development Division Maiza Hameed, Member of National Assembly Zeb Jaffar and Minister of State for Capital Administration and Development Division Dr Tariq Fazl Chaudhry.