Pakistan government in crisis as MQM pulls out

MQM was the 2nd largest party in the alliance with 25 lawmakers in 342-member National Assembly.

Updated: Jan 03, 2011, 09:38 AM IST

Karachi/Islamabad: In a major blow to the
ruling alliance in Pakistan, one of its key allies the MQM
which was having uneasy ties with the PPP on Sunday quit the
coalition and decided to sit in the opposition.

"The MQM has announced its decision to sit in the
opposition benches in the National Assembly and in the
Senate," the party said in a statement.

"It has been decided. We will sit on the opposition
benches in the National Assembly and the Senate," MQM
spokesman Wasay Jalil was quoted as saying by Dawn.

MQM, was the second largest party in the alliance with
25 lawmakers in the 342-member National Assembly.

Despite the announcement, the initial response from
the government has been that there is no threat to it and that
all major parties are working to strengthen democracy in the

The MQM had last week announced its decision to
withdraw from the PPP-led coalition govt after a falling out
over Sindh Home Minister Zulfikar Mirza`s statement regarding
target killings in Karachi.

It had pulled its two ministers out of the federal
Cabinet, claiming that they were given "impotent" portfolios,
just weeks after another alliance partner JUI 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 had said.

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.

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.


25. Iran stoning woman`s threat may be under duress: Berlin
Berlin: The threat by an Iranian woman
sentenced to death by stoning to sue two German reporters may
have been made under duress, the German foreign ministry said

"The contents of the declarations relayed and the manner
in which they were made really raise questions," a spokesman

Mohammadi Ashtiani, a 43-year-old mother of two, appeared
in front of foreign media and judiciary officials yesterday
and said she had told her son to sue two German reporters who
had interviewed him about her case.

"I have a complaint against them," she told Iran-based
foreign media at an appearance organised by judiciary
officials at a government welfare organisation guesthouse in

The two German journalists from Bild am Sonntag were
arrested on October 10 in Tabriz for interviewing Ashtiani`s
son and family lawyer who were also taken into custody. The
son was released last month.

Iran says the two Germans entered the country on tourist
visas and failed to obtain the necessary accreditation for
journalists from the authorities before "posing as reporters"
when they contacted Mohammadi Ashtiani`s family.

"Unfortunately, it is not uncommon in Iran for people to
be forced to make statements," a German diplomatic source

Hundred prominent Germans, including business leaders,
ministers and top sports stars, today urged Tehran to free the
two journalists, in an appeal published by Bild am Sonntag

"The pair must be released and must return to Germany as
soon as possible," said Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.

"A state like Iran, which always calls for understanding,
must not flout it in other areas," added Defence Minister
Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg.

Other signatories included the heads of Deutsche Bank,
Deutsche Telekom and BMW, footballer Philipp Lahm, Formula One
star and seven-time former world champion Michael Schumacher
and Nobel literature laureate Herta Mueller.

Mohammadi Ashtiani was sentenced to death by two
different courts in Tabriz in separate trials in 2006.

Her sentence to hang for her involvement in the murder of
her husband was commuted to a 10-year jail term by an appeals
court in 2007.

But a second sentence to death by stoning on charges of
adultery levelled over several relationships, notably with the
man convicted of her husband`s murder, was upheld by another
appeals court the same year.