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Pakistan party says ministers to resign from the federal cabinet

From Nasir Habib, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The MQM says its two ministers will resign in protest
  • The regional party is one of the largest in Pakistan
  • It is expected to remain part of the federal and provincial Sindh governments for now

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- A senior leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in Pakistan said Monday that its two ministers in the federal cabinet would resign.

"Our suggestions on public importance issues were never taken seriously. That is why our ministers are getting out of the cabinet as protest," Haider Abbas Rizvi told CNN.

He said both ministers would submit their resignations to the prime minister. The move should serve as a warning to the government to improve its performance, Rizvi said.

The MQM, one of the largest and most liberal parties in Pakistan, is strongest in the southern city of Karachi. It is expected to remain part of the federal and provincial Sindh governments for now, said Rizvi.

The MQM mostly represents Urdu-speaking people, who migrated to Pakistan from India during partition in 1947, while the Awami National Party, a political rival, represents Pashto speakers -- more of whom are moving to Karachi from northwest Pakistan in search of jobs.

MQM is wary of the potential strengthening of a second political or ethnic group in its stronghold of Karachi, and the two parties have been engaged in bloody battles for years.

MQM's decision to pull its ministers out of the federal government comes after another partner Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazal Ur Rehman group), left the coalition government.

MQM has threatened to leave the coalition several times, but has reconsidered. If it leaves the coalition government and the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party cannot get another party to join, the government will likely collapse.

"We don't want to harm the government, but they never took us into confidence on any issue related to the public interest," Rizvi said.

He added that MQM is removing its ministers from the cabinet as a form of protest, but is not leaving the coalition government.

"We don't want to derail the democratic process in Pakistan," he said.