ISLAMABAD: Hours after giving a controversial statement which put the already beleaguered Pakistan Peoples Party government in an awkward position, Abdul Qayyum Khan Jatoi, the state minister for defence production, resigned from the cabinet on the prime minister’s insistence.
Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani had earlier summoned the state minister and asked him to explain his statement against the chief justice and the army.
Jatoi, a federal lawmaker from the NA-180 Muzaffargarh-V constituency, said he had made the statement in his personal capacity and he did not mean to defame any institution.
Unsatisfied with the explanation, Gilani asked his cabinet colleague to quit.
Jatoi, in May this year, had submitted his resignation as minister when Samiullah Leghari, a candidate supported by him, lost the by-election in PP-259 Muzaffargarh-IX. He had recommended the name of Sami Leghari for a PPP ticket from this constituency.
Independent candidate and Leghari’s opponent Syed Abdul Basit Sultan won the election instead.
But the prime minister did not accept his resignation at the time.
In a situation when the judiciary-executive relations are already strained such a statement against the office of the chief justice was likely to make things worse for the government.
Jatoi may face stiffer action, including being unseated from his National Assembly seat, if pressure on the government mounts beyond a certain limit.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 26th, 2010.