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 Fata MPs want to leave ruling coalition
Updated at  
Thursday, October 22, 2009

By Mumtaz Alvi

ISLAMABAD: A thirteen-member legislators group from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) on Wednesday called on Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani and asked him to accept their ministers and parliamentary secretaries’ resignations while their ministers stayed away from Wednesday’s cabinet meeting.

It was learnt neither Fata federal ministers Hameedullah Jan Afridi, who holds the Environment Ministry portfolio, and Noorul Haq Qadri, the Minister for Zakaat and Ushr, nor their two Parliamentary Secretaries Jawad Hussain and Shaukatullah were visiting their offices after they had submitted their resignations about a fortnight back.

On the sidelines of the recent briefing by Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, MNA Munir Khan Orakzai, who leads the group as its parliamentary leader in the National Assembly, had a brief chat with Premier Gilani, who reassured of meeting their demands in due course of time. Orakzai was invited and he also attended the meeting prior to the launching of military action in the restive Waziristan.

Orakzai, who is from the Orakzai Agency, when contacted, confirmed to The News that they had been reassured by the prime minister that their demands would be fulfilled and hence their ministers and parliamentary secretaries’ resignations would not be accepted.

“The situation is the same with regard to our resignations, whereas we want Prime Minister Gilani to let us sit on the opposition benches,” he maintained. He said they had also requested Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza during the recently-prorogued session of the National Assembly that they should be allotted seats on the opposition benches. “However, we were told that it could be done only after their ministers and parliamentary secretaries’ resignations were accepted by the prime minister,” he pointed out.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) has also been threatening to leave the ruling coalition, however, it continues to be part of the government despite having strong reservations on the ongoing military operation against terrorists in Waziristan and non-implementation of the Council of Islamic Ideology recommendations on Islamisation.

However, he conceded majority of their demands, including the release of development funds, had been accepted, but Fata lawmakers’ group would not budge on its stance to switch over to the opposition side unless NWFP Governor Owais Ahmad Ghani was replaced and the main Kurram Agency road was reopened.

The Fata group of lawmakers comprises as many as nine MNAs and four senators. He concluded by saying that the incumbent governor would have to go, as he had allegedly been impeding their efforts for Fata’s betterment. Likewise, he added, those displaced from Kurram nearly two years ago must be brought back and the main road should also be reopened.

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