A Pakistani minister has been forced to resign after Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani [ Images ] took serious notice of his comments criticising the army and the judiciary and calling for everyone to get a share of the benefits of corruption.
Addressing a news conference in the southwestern city of Quetta on Saturday, Minister of State for Defence Production Abdul Qayyum Jatoi accused the army of targeting unarmed people instead of focussing on its duty of defending the country's borders. Jatoi, who belongs to the ruling Pakistan People's Party, alleged that Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry belonged to Punjab [ Images ] but had resorted to unfair means to be appointed to the superior judiciary from the quota for Balochistan. He also contended that everyone should have an equal right to corruption.
Replying to a question, he said everyone including Sindhis, Pashtuns, Balochis, Seraikis and Punjabis should get a share of the benefits of corruption. Jatoi repeatedly urged the media to report his comments. Within hours, Gilani took "serious notice" of Jatoi's statements and summoned the minister to Islamabad [ Images ] to explain his remarks. Following a meeting with Gilani late on Saturday night, Jatoi submitted his resignation. He said he had made the controversial remarks in a personal capacity.
Jatoi's remarks came at a time when the PPP-led government is facing pressure from the Supreme Court to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari [ Images ] in Switzerland [ Images ]. The government has also had to contend with speculation about an intervention by the army due to its inept handling of recent floods and economic problems. Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said Jatoi's remarks did not reflect the view of the government. Asked about a possible army intervention, Jatoi said: "Let them come, we don't fear the boots. We fought them for 60 years. We will fight them again. We provided them uniforms and boots not so that they can take away our rights and kill our people and leaders. We have the army to fight on the borders and not withunarmed people."
Jatoi alleged that former President Pervez Musharraf [ Images ], former premier Mir Zafarullah Jamali and former Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao were involved in the killing of Baloch nationalist leader Nawab Akbar Bugti.