In a blow to Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's government, key partner Muttahida Quami Movement on Monday quit his government at the centre and also made an exit from the ruling coalition in the Sindh province, citing Pakistan Peoples Party's "undemocratic and dictatorial" attitude."
"We have been under lot of pressure to quit the government because of its debatable policies. But the elections in Azad Kashmir are the final straw for us," senior MQM leader Farooq Sattar said.
"MQM's Rabita Committee (highest decision making body), parliamentarians and legislators came to the conclusion that it is not possible for the MQM to work with this government because of its undemocratic and dictatorial actions," he said.
The party has 25-members in the 342 member National Assembly. Sattar insisted that the elections of Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir were a fraud.
Differences between the PPP and MQM surfaced after the postponement of elections for three seats in Pok representing the Kashmiri diaspora in Karachi and Khyber Pakhtunkhawa.
Though the move is a blow to the federal government, it is not expected to collapse as the ruling PPP recently forged an alliance with the PML-Q to bolster the ruling coalition's numbers in parliament.
Sattar announced his party's decision at a news conference in the southern port city of Karachi, saying that the move was made after consultations with the party's workers and lawmakers.
The PPP-led government had a "dictatorial attitude" and used "force and pressure" against both its opponents and allies, he alleged.
"In keeping with the consultations with and wishes of its workers and the people, the MQM announces its separation from the PPP-led government," he said.
"The PPP was unwilling to mend its ways, leaving us with no option but to quit the coalition," Sattar said.
MQM lawmakers in the national and provincial assemblies will sit on opposition benches, he said.
Sindh Governor Ishrat-ul-Ibad Khan, a senior MQM leader who has held the position since the era of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, resigned from his post.
Political analysts believe that the decision by the MQM to quit the government and sit on the opposition benches does not augur well for Karachi which is the biggest city and financial hub of Pakistan.
"MQM is a potent force in Karachi and its remaining in the government guaranteed that peace in general would prevail in the city. Despite the fact that many of their workers were killed in the recent violence in the city," one analyst said.
Jahangir Badr a senior leader of the PPP said that his party would soon meet and decide on a future strategy. "Our aim even now would be to listen to the grievances of the MQM and address them as we want them as our partners in governance," Badr said.