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JUI-F quits government,MQM to hold crisis talks

MQM to hold crisis talks after JUI-F quits governmentKARACHI: The second largest partner in Pakistan’s weak coalition is to hold crisis talks Wednesday after a prominent religious party walked out of the government, triggering fears of a domino effect.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), which has its powerbase among the Urdu-speaking majority in financial capital Karachi will gather party leaders at 5:00 pm, the head of its parliamentary faction said.

“An emergency meeting of the MQM co-ordination committee will review the current political situation, particularly JUIF’s decision to leave the government,” Farooq Sattar told AFP.

“The meeting will discuss the Pakistan People Party’s (PPP) behaviour and conduct with its political allies and will make a future strategy.”

The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUIF), on Tuesday withdrew from government after PPP Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani sacked one of its three cabinet ministers.

The government needs a simple majority of 172 members in the 342-seat national assembly, which has not been affected by JUIF’s departure with only eight seats in the lower house of parliament. But MQM support is crucial to the PPP coalition.

Party relations have already soured over a surge in political violence in Karachi, which saw more than 155 people killed and sparked allegations of MQM involvement.

PPP has 128 lawmakers in the lower assembly and commands a majority of 184, based on coalition partners and allied independent members. MQM has 25 seats in the federal parliament and could theoretically bring down the government unless the PPP can shore up replacement coalition partners.

The federal government’s third coalition partner, the Awami National Party, on Tuesday pledged public support for the PPP after JUIF’s withdrawal. – AFP

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