Post 2002 general elections the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) shrunk to a 19-seats party in the National Assembly. A year before that all key members of Sharif family had conveniently struck a deal with General Musharraf to begin a rather secluded yet luxurious life in Saroor Palace of Jeddah. Left behind to face ire of the military dictator were a few loyalists. One of them had complained if Mian Sahab could not let him board the same flight to Jeddah keeping in view his time-tested loyalty. When General Amjad was even prepared to beat a couple of politicians with his leather belt, fewer could sustain the pressure. Dozens joined the Q League. Some went to the extent of exhibiting performing art in front of Chaudhry Pervez Elahi’s SUV. Many more literarily lay down to earn a single National or Provincial Assembly ticket. The PML-N was wiped out throughout Punjab, except Lahore. The Lahori voters rejected the turncoats. Humayun Akhter Khan put incredible hex to secure a seat in, what many believed, an unlikely contest against Akram Zaki. The 2002 National Assembly was memorable in many ways. Late Abdul Sattar Lalika used to avail every opportunity to apple-polishing. And Khawaja Asif used to remind him of his ex-love – Mian Nawaz Sharif. General Musharraf was acting more like an Arabian King. His words were the law. His orders could not be disobeyed. His wishes were their commands. Among others he wanted Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan join the Q-League. Narrators say the veteran politician from Chakri was instrumental in elevating Gen Musharraf to the top military slot. He used his personal rapport with both Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif and, more importantly, raised the matter personally with Abba Jee. Perhaps because of his family background or untold favours to General Musharraf, Chaudhry Nisar avoided the incarceration in Attock Fort. Late Majeed Nizami once narrated that how badly Mian Sahab wanted to get out of that prison. Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain is decent enough to avoid disclosing the names of members of Sharif family who sought his help to end the incarceration of Sharif family. Against all odds Mian Sahab had Chaudhry Nisar, Javed Hashmi, Ahsan Iqbal, Khawaja Asif, Saad Rafique, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Abid Sher Ali, etc. to keep his party alive in and outside the Parliament. Long before becoming an irritant Tahirul Qadri was member of the same assembly. A conglomerate of religious alliance led by late Qazi Hussain Ahmed had proficient Liqauat Baloch, witty Hafiz Hussain Ahmed the most eloquent speaker Hafiz Salman Butt. There was Imran Khan too and also Mehmood Khan Achakzai. Among those luminaries the real attention grabbers were Chaudhry Nisar and Javed Hashmi with their substantive arguments and thunderous verbosity. Abid Sher Ali was more like a troublemaker so as Hanif Abbasi. It would be unfair to ignore Tehmina Daultana. A joke, then popular, was that she was the only male member within the PML-N ranks. Those few knights of Mian Sahab were up against the whole cavalry of Gen Musharraf led by Chaudhry Shujaat, Farooq Leghari, Sheikh Rashid, Ijazul Haq, Hamid Nasir Chattha, Daniyal Aziz, Chaudhry Amir Hussain, Faisal Saleh Hayat, Nasrullah Dareshak and many others. Several shills also made their way to the National Assembly. Years passed. Things changed. Musharraf fell. Zardari departed. And the knights were rewarded upon the return of the king, in 2013. The most prominent among them was undoubtedly Chaudhry Nisar. While forming his federal cabinet, Mian Sahab offered Chaudhry Nisar to cherry-pick any ministry. He could well be the foreign minister or he could choose the ministry of petroleum given his past experience. He selected the interior ministry. Chaudhry Nisar is a Leo by birth. And the Leos are congenitally bossy and domineering. Admitting something (read Quetta Commission report) is not their cup of tea. They cannot be controlled. This is something what the king cannot afford or tolerate, yet he’s ridiculously helpless to do anything about it. To Mian Sahab, Chaudhry Nisar now seems to be Dr Seuss’ worst nightmare. To jot down history of love-hate relations between Mian Sahab and Chaudhry Nisar needs a volume. One fine and old example of their patchy relations was the elevation of Javed Hashmi as the acting president of the PML-N, in 2001. Chaudhry Nisar was annoyed and had also made his annoyance known. Botched decisions like making all intelligence agencies including the Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence answerable to the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (NACTA) aggravated their mutual differences. In the face of growing civil-military tension, it was said to be Chaudhry Nisar who had advised the prime minister to replace defence minister Khawaja Asif. The prime minister ignored the advice. In recent years, two of them had phases when days went by without exchanging a single word. The 2014 sit-in outside the Parliament was one important contributing factor. The prime minister often ignored the role and advice of his interior ministry on the so-called National Action Plan, prepared after the APS attack. Nonetheless, Chaudhry Nisar had the knack of surviving the odds. He never let his importance diminished despite his own cabinet colleagues were trying to make him irrelevant. He has more foes than friends in his own party who often miscalculate his clout and the ability to strike back. Long ago when Mian Sahab was counting days in Saroor Palace, Saad Rafique quarrelled with Chaudhry Nisar. While Saad Rafique was aggressively loud, Chaudhry Nisar used to ignore questions about that issue with a sarcastic smirk. Years later, it was the same Saad Rafique who stated: “There is only one Chaudhry Nisar. He’s the most senior leader. No one can replace him.” The presence of Chaudhry Nisar is not very comforting to many of his colleagues. It includes the prime minister as well. One of the earnest wishes of Mian Sahab is to see Chaudhry Nisar peacefully retire from politics. He may or may not know that if wishes were horses beggars would ride.