Zulfiqar Mirza, the outgoing Sindh Home Minister and Senior Vice President of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) claimed on Friday that he had been relieved from his ministry owing to pressure from the government’s coalition partner, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).
Mirza claimed that MQM leader Altaf Hussain “personally” called President Asif Ali Zardari more than “six times” to demand his removal, adding that the issue of target killing and extortion was just a ruse to remove him from his post.
The MQM’s parliamentary leader in the National Assembly, Farooq Sattar, however, has said that Mirza’s removal is an internal matter of the PPP. Mirza disputed that characterisation of events.
He claimed that he was exhausted by the home ministry job and thanked the MQM for sending him on leave. “I am going to the United States to meet my children,” he said.
Responding to rumours that his life was at risk and he had been asked to go into hiding, Mirza said that while he was receiving threats, he knew how to deal with them and would not be keeping a low profile. “No one can issue any direction to me to go underground except President Zardari.”
Mirza also denied rumours that he was being offered a slot in the federal cabinet.
The former home minister had claimed that the police had arrested the murderers of Geo News reporter Wali Khan Babar, who was killed on January 13.“The real culprits involved in the murder of Babar have been arrested and belong to the MQM. Why don’t they [Geo News] highlight the issue?”, he said. The MQM, meanwhile, declined to comment on the accusations levelled at them by Mirza.
“It is not necessary to talk about Mirza’s statement. We don’t want to waste our time,” said Wasim Aftab, member of the MQM Central Coordination Committee.
Additional reporting by Rauf Klasra
Published in The Express Tribune, April 9th, 2011.