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Pak religious affairs minister resigns
K J M Varma in Islamabad | July 04, 2007 23:12 IST
Pakistan's minister of state for religious affairs on Wednesday resigned from the Cabinet as well as from National the Assembly, apparently after his party asked him to quit following his criticism of the military crackdown against the Lal Masjid clerics and militants.
Though Minister Liaqat Hussain, a leader of the Muthahida Quami Movement and a preacher of Islam, said he resigned from both the posts due to personal reasons, party sources claimed that he was asked to quit after he made statements criticising the crackdown.
"His statement on a television show criticising the action against the Lal Masjid militants embarrassed the party and the government and he was asked to quit," an MQM leader told PTI on condition of anonymity.
Hussain has been asked to quit by the London [Images] based MQM leader Altaf Hussain, the leader claimed.
His party was embarrassed as it held a massive demonstration in Karachi few months ago against religious extremism and moral policing of Lal Masjid's radical clerics.
Hussain was made a minister by President Pervez Musharraf [Images], who was apparently impressed by his show on a local TV preaching "moderate aspects" of Islam.
The government's action against Lal Masjid apparently has also irked ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Q president Shujaat Hussain who in the past acted as a mediator between government and clerics.
He reportedly expressed reservations over the military action. Regarded as a conservative leader, Shujaat in the recent past was blamed for the resignation of tourism minister Nilofar Bhaktiyar.
She too had to quit the post of president of PML-Q (Women's wing) after Lal Masjid clerics issued a fatwa, calling for her sacking after photographs of a French paratrooper hugging her were published.
She quit both the posts in protest and blamed the party leadership for not backing her. Bhaktiyar also filed a case calling for action against the clerics in the Supreme Court.