ISLAMABAD - In a damage-control bid, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has directed all his cabinet colleagues and party Parliamentarians not to respond to the hostile and harsh statements of Pakistan People’s Party leaders triggered by the ‘controversial’ remarks of Interior Minister against the Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly.

Sources in the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) informed The Nation that the prime minister was perturbed over the remarks of interior minister giving the impression of some sort of deal (mukmuka) between the government and PPP and also referred to some undue favours the Leader of Opposition has been getting from the government for remaining ‘soft’ against the ruling party.

The sources said that after a lengthy debate and discussion with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Interior Minister Ch. Nisar Ali Khan had issued a clarification on his statement of mukmuka (deal) between the government and PPP and rephrased his statement saying that Syed Khursheed Shah had secured undue favours from the government by taking advantage of his position as Leader of Opposition.

But the party leaders close to the prime minister said that the clarification issued from the media section of Interior Ministry has added fuel to the fire and once again invited a fresh wave of criticism on the government by Khursheed Shah and other senior PPP leaders.

The sources in the party said that the prime minister expressed annoyance over the statement of another federal minister apparently in favour of interior minister and against the leader of opposition but while accusing Khursheed, the minister made the prime minister equally guilty who had unduly given favours to him (Khursheed).

The prime minister directed Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to strictly refrain all the cabinet colleagues and party Parliamentarians not to give any statement on the issue and also avoid responding to the criticism coming on the government from PPP in this connection.

The sources further informed The Nation that the prime minister was not at all happy with the situation and now asked some of his close aides with dovish tendency including Ishaq Dar to calm down Khursheed and save the situation from slipping into disarray.

The sources in the government said that Ishaq Dar enjoys good relations with Khursheed and hopefully would save the situation from aggravating.

The sources said that although the interior minister has withdrawn his statement about the deal between government and PPP, yet he was still sticking to his stance.

If Nisar remains stick to his stance, PPP would most likely to take a hard line against the ruling PML-N, the sources added. Both PML-N and PPP are already at odds over the delegation of powers to Rangers’ in Karachi and with the triggering of this fresh row it would become extremely difficult for the government to draw some middle course with PPP on Rangers’ role in Sindh.

Previously, the interior minister had strong and unflinching position on Rangers’ powers issue with the Sindh government and even had rough talk with Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah during his visit to Karachi along with the prime minister.

Later, it was the prime minister who had stopped Nisar from visiting Karachi to thrash out the differences between the Centre and the Sindh government over Ragners’ role and powers in Karachi, only because of the uneasiness between him (interior minister) and Sindh CM.