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Setback for Pakistan government as MQM pulls out

Source: PTI
December 28, 2010 18:10 IST
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In a major setback to Pakistan's ruling coalition led by the Pakistan Peoples Party, one of its key allies the Muttahida Qaumi Movement has pulled its two ministers out of the federal cabinet, claiming that they were given "impotent" portfolios, just weeks after another alliance partner, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, parted ways with the government.

The PPP had dealt with the MQM in a "non-serious" manner and the party's two ministers were allocated "impotent" portfolios, senior MQM leader Faisal Sabzwari told mediapersons on Monday night.

The MQM's Farooq Sattar was the minister for overseas Pakistanis affairs while Babar Khan Ghauri was ports and shipping minister. "The MQM will not be able to resolve the people's problems by remaining in these two ministries," Sabzwari said.

However, the MQM, second largest party in the alliance, would continue to support the PPP-led coalition at the Centre and its 25 lawmakers would sit in the treasury benches in the lower house of parliament, he said.

The MQM's move followed the JUI's decision earlier this month to pull out of the coalition following the sacking of one of its ministers by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. Relations between the PPP and MQM, which has its powerbase among Urdu-speaking people in the financial hub of Karachi, became strained after senior PPP leader and provincial Home Minister Zuulfiqar Mirza alleged that the MQM was behind ethnic violence in the southern port city.

The departure of the JUI's eight parliamentarians did not affect the coalition, which has a majority in the 342-member National Assembly with the backing of over 180 lawmakers.

The MQM's 25 parliamentarians have played a key role in propping up the PPP-led government at the centre and the MQM is also part of the PPP-led government in Sindh province. Sabzwari said the MQM's Rabita Committee or highest decision-making body had not considered the issue of quitting the government in Sindh.

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