Chaudhry Nisar isn’t a man to bow out gracefully.Thus his latest reinvention as a one-man check-and-balance mission to keep the ruling government on the straight and narrow should come as no surprise to anyone. Least of all his PMLN colleagues. Yet timing, as the former minister of the Interior knows, is everything. And everything counts in large amount.Pakistan has arrived at a critical juncture. It is facing international censure on its anti-terror record. Yet Nisar has chosen now to twist the knife as deep as he can. Much of his contempt has been reserved for the Foreign Minister. Who has admitted that, yes, banned terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) are still operating within Pakistan’s borders and that, also yes, more needs to be done to curb this. Superficially, at least, this represents a break from the political past. Given the PMLN’s reported links to at least one of these groups.Yet Nisar sees this as the FM doing India’s bidding; declaring outright that we are, in fact, a terrorist state. Yet denial, as the saying goes, is not a river in Egypt. But we can understand his state of apparent flummox. For if these groups are still operational — it leaves a rather indelible black mark against his own record as Interior minister. Though Nisar is a man long reported to have close ties with suspect outfits. And here we aren’t referring to possible fashion missteps. This was something that the Supreme Court-backed Quetta inquiry commission on terrorism raised, pointing out that a government minister had no business consorting with leaders of banned groups such as Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), Millat-i-Islamia and Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ).The new PMLN guard clearly has its eye on the looming election. And in Pakistan this means keeping the security establishment at bay, the latter usually being the entity with which most of the so-called democratic West prefers doing business. Thus the FM’s comments, backed by Prime Minister Abbasi, may or may not have been a strategic strike against the big boys in khaki; a decisive shifting of the spotlight from civilian support of such groups, despite all the talk about the civil-military leadership being on the same anti-terror page. But even this isn’t enough for Nisar. Who is now huffing and puffing about how no one ever calls on Afghanistan to do in-house cleaning, given that particular terrorist groups launch cross-border attacks from that country into this one. That he appears hellbent upon undermining the civilian leadership in this way only reinforces long held claims that he is not only on friendly terms with terrorist outfits but also in the pocket of the security establishment. Which may or may not amount to the same thing. Nisar would seemingly better placed to answer that.None of this is to say that the former federal minister is not right to castigate the Centre. It is just to politely suggest that he prioritise. After all, he might have done better by taking to task the civvies over their contesting a local by-election on equal footing with the political wing of LeT. And after that, he might have then chosen to turn his ire against the Army. For it was the latter, according to one of its own, that had first floated the idea of mainstreaming — not disarming — its militant proxies. A report that Nawaz Sharif is said to have rejected. Which raises questions as to whether or not PM Abbasi had agreed to this plan. Yet by lambasting only the non-uniformed — Nisar has shown where his loyalties still clearly lie. * Published in Daily Times, September 22nd 2017.