Key Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leaders from Sindh are pushing President Asif Ali Zardari to get Interior Minister Rehman Malik to resign ostensibly for “engineering a controversial political deal”, leading up to the revival of the local government system in the province.
Insiders said that some important figures from the province were perturbed over Malik’s ‘central role’ in the affairs of Karachi and Sindh, and wanted to see him out of the federal cabinet.
But, they added, President Zardari was not in favour of sending Malik packing because it will create ‘negative vibes’ and give their political opponents ammunition to attack the party.
Malik and former law minister Senator Babar Awan were the PPP ‘troubleshooters’ when the party held negotiations with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) after a latest spate of target killings in Karachi that claimed over 300 lives in July alone.
Some top PPP leaders said that the idea of seeking Malik’s resignation was first floated during the federal cabinet meeting last Wednesday, putting Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in an awkward position.
Law Minister Maula Bux Chandio was the first one to demand that Malik be removed from his post or at best asked to resign because he acted without consulting the ‘real stakeholders’ in Sindh. Other ministers built up their case around Chandio’s criticism.
Although it has been reported that Religious Affairs Minister Khursheed Shah and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid’s Ghous Baksh Mahar are among Malik’s critics, The Express Tribune could not confirm if they had actually called for his resignation.
What has been confirmed is that a group of PPP leaders, including National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza, is planning to see President Zardari in a couple of days to persuade him to force Malik to resign.
At least three federal ministers, Zafar Ali Shah, Nawab Yousaf Talpur, Nabeel Gabol, Rafiq Jamali, Gul Muhammad Jakhrani and a couple of other lawmakers were among those who want to see Malik gone.
Last Thursday, Zardari had to step in to defend Malik at a meeting of PPP leaders from Sindh. “He doesn’t do things on his own. He does what I ask him to do,” Zardari replied when several leaders demanded Malik’s resignation.
Some of them were even more harsh and asked the president to expel him from the party as well.
Interestingly, the level of resentment against Babar Awan, who was a Malik’s co-negotiator with MQM, is “much milder”.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2011.
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