Pakistan government in crisis as MQM pulls out
Last Updated: Monday, January 03, 2011, 09:38
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 country.

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.

PTI 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 Sunday.

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

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 Tabriz.

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 said.

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 weekly.

"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.


First Published: Monday, January 03, 2011, 09:38

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